(CNSNews.com) - Ron Vitiello, the acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said his agency is working with the Defense Department on the type of National Guard “capabilities” that would boost security on the Southwest Border.
President Trump has suggested putting anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard troops on the border to stem the rising tide of illegal immigration.
“They’ll be doing operational support functions for us. They’ll be watching monitors, border cameras and sensor feeds, those kinds of things. They’ll be helping us in sort of back-room activities. We've used them previously to help repair roads and vehicles. We've used them to do intelligence and analysis for intelligence, and then aviation is a big part of what we hope they bring.”
Vitiello said CBP wants to put some National Guard troops in each of the nine Southwest border sectors. He said he anticipates having the National Guard stay until the end of next year.
“The standard that the president brought back to us and the Border Patrol is operational control. And so that's a high bar, and so we can start to demonstrate, you know, that we have situational awareness, we have impedance and now we have a structure, a wall, we have mobility to the border and we have more agents. You start to put those pieces together, the border looks better, and you can start assessing whether the troops are still necessary.”
Asked about the cost, Vitiello said, “It's probably expensive. All military endeavors, you know, come with a cost, but they’re going to add a lot of value to the border security mission.”
Vitiello pointed to the latest data from CBP showing that attempted illegal border crossings are going back up – increasing 203 percent from March 2017 to March 2018.
“There’s a couple of different reasons for that,” he said. “I think the economy plays into that. But then we’re also seeing a lack of consequences for people who come as children or as part of families. And we're also seeing increases in the trends of people who come with a criminal record and a then lot more…increases in hard narcotic seizures along the Southwest border as well.”
Vitiello described the “caravan” of Central Americans now making its way through Mexico -- although somewhat dispersed – as an example of the “loopholes” that attract people to enter the U.S. illegally:
“I think it’s important to recognize that that's a demonstration of loopholes that exist in current immigration law enforcement. And that caravan is an example of people believing that they can come to the United States and be interdicted but then let go. We have to end this catch-and-release problem and the caravan is a demonstration of that.”