Obama Should Visit U.S.-Mexico Border to See the Threat to Americans Firsthand, Republican Senators Say
May 26, 2010 - 9:18 AMOn the same day President Barack Obama announced he was ordering 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, two Republican senators from Arizona said it's about time – and it's too few troops.
“We have been calling on President Obama to deploy National Guard troops to the border since March 2009 and are pleased he has finally started to recognize the essential needs of our Southwest states,” Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl said in a statement.
Obama acted before Republicans could force a congressional vote on sending in the National Guard, the Associated Press reported.
According to the AP, the National Guard troops will work on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, analysis and training, and support efforts to block drug trafficking. Sen. Kyl said Wednesday that most of the troops will have "desk jobs."
They temporarily will supplement Border Patrol agents until Customs and Border Protection can recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve on the border, administration officials told Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in a May 25 letter.
McCain and Kyl called the deployment an “important first step,” but one that does not go far enough. More than 1,200 troops are needed, they said.
“We believe it would be very helpful if the President could visit the Mexico-U.S. border so he could see firsthand the threat to the safety of Americans from illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and human smuggling. He could also personally witness the need for additional personnel, technology and infrastructure necessary to secure to the border,” the senators said.
McCain and Kyl noted that in 2006, President Bush sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the Southwest border. “We believe the situation on the border is far worse today than it was then due to the escalating violence between the Mexican drug cartels and the Mexican government. For this reason, we need to deploy at least 6,000 National Guard troops to the border region,” McCain and Kyl said.
“The fact that President Obama announced today that he will only be sending one-fifth of the troops we believe are required is a weak start and does not demonstrate an understanding of the current situation in the region.”
The White House announced its plan to send National Guard troops shortly after Obama met privately with Republican senators on Capitol Hill Wednesday. The president did not tell the senators at the closed-door luncheon meeting about his plan to send in the National Guard, although Republicans did press him on immigration issues.
It was only after McCain and Kyl told the president they would introduce an amendment to fully fund the deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops that the Obama White House announced its decision to send 1,200 troops.
In their Tuesday letter to Chairman Levin, administration officials called McCain's 6,000 number “arbitrary.”
“There is no modern precedent for Congress to direct the President to deploy troops in the manner sought by the [McCain] amendment. It represents an unwarranted interference with the Commander-in-Chief's responsibilities to direct the employment of our Armed Forces and thus infringes on the President's role in the management of the Total Force," said the letter signed by National Security Adviser James Jones and White House Counterterrorism chief John Brennan.
Gov. Brewer on defense
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer credits Arizona’s new immigration law with finally prompting action from the Obama administration.
Brewer on Tuesday named John Bouma, chairman of the law firm Snell & Wilmer, to represent her in federal lawsuits challenging the Arizona law, which takes effect at the end of July.
The governor’s office says five federal lawsuits already have been filed, challenging the constitutionality of the new laws. Gov. Brewer is named as a defendant in four of
the five challenges.
“I am confident John Bouma and his team at Snell & Wilmer will successfully defend our immigration laws,” Brewer said on Wednesday.