Bush Set To Send Guard to Border
Assignment Would Be Temporary; Critics Cite Strain on Troops
By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 15, 2006; Page A01
President Bush tried to ease the worries of his Mexican counterpart yesterday as he prepared for a nationally televised address tonight unveiling a plan to send thousands of National Guard troops to help seal the nation's southern border against illegal immigrants.
Mexican President Vicente Fox called to express concern over the prospect of militarization of the border, and Bush reassured him that it would be only a temporary measure to bolster overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, the White House said.
"The president made clear that the United States considers Mexico a friend and that what is being considered is not militarization of the border but support of Border Patrol capabilities on a temporary basis by National Guard personnel," said White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri.
Officials suggested their mission would be to play a supporting role by providing intelligence, training, transportation, construction and other functions, while leaving the actual guarding of the 2,000-mile line separating the United States and Mexico to the Border Patrol. The National Guard would be a stopgap force until the federal government could hire civilian contractors to take over administrative and support functions from the Border Patrol, freeing more agents to actually hunt for immigrants slipping into the country.
Last time I checked we were at war. Shouldn't we be using those troops to wrap up operations in Iraq and Afghanistan? Even as a stopgap measure this is a bad idea without a immigration reform bill passed. I'm willing to be that this will actually delay the passing of an immigration reform bill until after the November elections thereby allowing the Republicans to appear strong on immigration issues without pissing off Hispanic voters since the Military will only be "on the border" in a supporting role.