Since November of last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has insisted that things are bad at the border, and asked the Pentagon multiple times to send more troops to the increasingly militarized border.
But many of the thousands of troops deployed haven’t been busy at all, and have been put to use doing the most mundane of tasks; originally, many couldn’t even interact with migrants. In January, for example, the DHS asked the Pentagon for more service members just to put wire on top of fences. The problem of busying the troops with mindless tasks to this day persists—because, in the absence of an actual border crisis, sending them home would be a hugely bad look for the president. Which is likely why now, in the border town of Calexico, California, the military will be painting the wall in an effort to make it aesthetically-pleasing, perhaps the wildest goose chase of all.
An email from the DHS provided to CBS News by an unnamed congressional aide states that the primary goal of painting the wall is improving its “aesthetic appearance.” That’s what this tool of family separation and xenophobic policy really needs—to make itself less offensive visually. Maybe the DHS knows that Trump’s border wall project will never not be morally repugnant and has given up on that part.
The email also notes that the facelift of this one tiny section of the border wall may have an “operational benefit,” making it harder for migrants to climb the fence at Calexico and making them easier to detect. Sounds like a cover to make the troops busywork sound productive—and by productive, I mean a disgrace to the human dignity of asylum-seekers and migrants approaching the border. Whatever it takes to keep up appearances, I guess!