A Military Times survey of nearly 900 active-duty troops found soldiers viewed cyberterrorism, Russia and China are greater threats to national security than immigration or the southern border with Mexico.
The survey was conducted in October 2018. Last week, President Donald Trump declared the U.S.-Mexico border a national emergency, and pledged the military will partially fund the construction of a border wall. The wall is estimated to cost $8 billion, and $3.6 billion meant for military construction will help fund it.
“They say walls don’t work. Walls work 100 percent,” Trump said in a Rose Garden interview. “We fight wars that are 6,000 miles away, wars that we never should have been in. But we don’t control our own border. So we are going to confront the national security crisis on our southern border, and we’re going to do it one way or the other. We have to do it.”
Nearly 80 percent of the polled soldiers viewed Mexico as a small threat, or none whatsoever, and 9 percent believed it was a significant or very significant threat. White nationalists were ranked a higher concern over immigration in the poll.
The poll also revealed support for Trump in the military has gone down, from 46 percent of troops approving of the president in fall 2016 to 44 percent in 2018. The number of troops who disapprove of the president during that time has risen from 37 to 43 percent.
One prominent service member who does support the emergency declaration is Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., a Wisconsin Air National Guard lieutenant colonel who just returned from a two-week deployment flying surveillance missions over the Arizona border.
“I went down there kind of undecided,” Kinzinger said on CBS Face the Nation on Sunday. “I think if this was just an issue of immigration it wouldn’t constitute a national emergency, but what I saw was really disturbing."
Kinzinger said he flew missions in which he helped interdict 70 pounds of methamphetamines on a border crosser, as well as helped identify a woman who had been abandoned in the desert by human traffickers, also known as “coyotes.”
“Had she actually not been found by us, I don’t know if she’d been able to find her way home," he said. "So yeah, she got picked up by Border Patrol, she’s going to be deported, but that was a way better option than being one of the 200, at least, bodies they end up finding in the desert every year.”