The troops have arrived. The Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger announced 224 National Guard troops have reported for duty along the California/Mexico border and will assist Border Patrol in the San Diego region.
Many critics say the 1,200 National Guard troops sent to four southern states’ 2,000 miles zigzagging U.S./Mexico border is completely inadequate for a number of reasons. First, the National Guard will not be making any arrests and will be slotted with Border Patrol agents off the front lines acting more like “spotters,” operate as a visible deterrent and assist with additional eyes and ears in the field, a National Guard spokeswoman said.
Not only will the Guard members be hanging in the background, but many will be taken from their families and real-world jobs. This isn’t the first time a president has sent troops to protect the porous borders. President Bush sent troops to the border in 2006-2008 during the country’s last attempt to fix the immigration laws.
The California Governator cautioned lawmakers that this temporary fix should not be seen as an alternative to comprehensive immigration reform.
“We must find a permanent solution to our broken immigration system,” Schwarzenegger said. “We need the federal government to step up with even more manpower and funding, and I will continue to push President Obama and Congress for action.”
“Our soldiers and airmen are true action heroes who respond to disasters at home and overseas. Today, our National Guard has been called to help secure the border and protect the safety of the American people, and I am proud that we are the first state to have our troops trained and operational for this mission,” Schwarzenegger said.
In an effort to appear tough on border issues for the upcoming midterms the Obama administration has stepped up its commitment to border security, something Republicans fiercely want in order to cooperate with any comprehensive immigration reform plans.
A $600 million border security bill passed through Congress last week and politicians are hoping this money will be enough to address the country’s burgeoning illegal immigration problem and secure the borders from the war on drugs that Mexico is fighting that has led to more than 28,000 deaths in the past couple years.
But so far Republicans are complaining that much more needs to be done at the border before any talks of immigration reform begin. The mood in the country also seems to be on the side of securing the borders, deporting all criminal aliens and adding many provisions before illegal immigrants are put on a pathway to citizenship.
There hasn’t been any timetable for withdrawal of National Guard along the border and the governor told reporters that they will stay as long as necessary and are trained to take a more active role if need be.