Obama To Decide on If National Guard Will Stay On US, Mexican Border to Fight Immigration Violators
President Obama will soon decide on whether or not to keep a group of 1,200 National Guardsman currently deployed on the Mexican and U.S. borders to combat immigration violators. Funding for the mission is up in June.
The president is speaking on the issue with his upcoming trip to the area to talk about immigration reform.
The troops were authorized about a year ago after congressional Republicans and border state governors demanded that more be done to stop illegal immigration. The troops have authorization to help the Border Patrol with immigration enforcement operations in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has urged Obama to extend the authorization for the Guard deployment, as she believes it has helped significantly in reducing border violence and smuggling activity.
Brewer reported that the guard has been involved in activities involving 19,000 surveillance operations, 10,000 seizures of illegal migrants and 235 seizures of drug shipments, including more than 18 tons of marijuana.
The guardsmen are not allowed to directly engage in law enforcement on U.S. soil, but have instead been working as criminal analysts and on so-called entry identification teams, which help to find people who are trying to cross the border illegally.
There are more than 524 troops active in Arizona, 250 in Texas, 224 in California and 72 in New Mexico, with more than 100 additional troops from the border states serving in command and control positions.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told officials that the administration is taking an extension under consideration, but that the costs for such as deployment would be a concern. She added that no decision has been made as yet on whether or not to extend the deployment because it is yet to be determined who would pay for the Guard’s services.
Napolitano noted that the Congress has been asked twice to let the funds be made available to pay for the Guard, but that it was denied both times.
Some Republicans, who have also proposed cutting funding for border security in their 2o12 budget proposals for 2012, also have opposed spending the millions of dollars needed to keep the troops deployed.
There are people on both sides of this debate that agree the Guard mission has been successful and should be continued.