National Guardsmen on Border a Good Idea
Don’t Handcuff the National Guard
By Mike Blair
President George W. Bush’s proposal to send 6,000 Army National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border is a good start, but it will not be enough to prevent illegal aliens and drug smugglers from crossing, say critics, who claim it’s an act to dupe Americans into thinking something is being done about national security.
Contrary to what many columnists in the mainstream media have been reporting, Bush does not need an act of Congress to place troops on the border. His constitutional duty is to protect America’s borders, and that can include ordering troops to patrol it. The governors of the four states along the border—Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas—have all said they are facing a crisis with illegal immigration and drug smuggling. The president has the authority and the responsibility to stop it.
Reports circulating now call into question how effective the National Guard will be. The plan calls for placing troops not at the border but in rear observation areas. Even more shocking is the fact that they will not be armed.
Similar situations in the past with American peacekeeping troops stationed along Middle Eastern borders with either no weapons—or no live ammunition—have led to confrontations in which U.S. soldiers were at grave risk.
UP TO THE GOVERNORS
On a recent television evening talk show, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld found himself trying to skirt the issue of sending unarmed troops to the border to support U.S. Border Patrol agents.
“Will they be armed?” the host asked Rumsfeld, who tried to ignore the question. Rumsfeld was pressed again for an answer.
Finally, he acknowledged that it would be “up to the governors.” The defense chief said that the troops are only going to be at the border in “a support role.” They will not be there in “a law enforcement role.”
An administration spokesman told AFP that troops will assist the Border Patrol in a support capacity, such as conducting administrative tasks, doing construction, maintaining communications and performing electronic monitoring.
National Guard troops will be used in two-week deployments. This, one critic remarked, should give them “just about enough time to unpack their gear,” before they are returned to civilian life.
On the talk show, Rumsfeld was asked what would happen if U.S. National Guard ran into a large number of illegal aliens or drug smugglers in an area such as Nuevo Laredo, a Mexican town just across the border from Laredo, Tex. Nuevo Laredo is widely reputed to be a headquarters for drug cartels and a jumping-off point for heavily armed coyotes who smuggle illegals into the United States. Gunfights and violence are reportedly commonplace on the streets of Nuevo Laredo.
Rumsfeld repeated that they would not have a law enforcement role at the border, prompting the talkshow host to say that there should be 30,000 Guardsmen there “armed to the teeth.”
The United States maintains 440,000 National Guardsmen. The border assignment amounts to about two percent of available troops. That’s why those familiar with the border crisis find the 6,000-troop deployment a joke.
“They’ll be sitting around doing absolutely nothing,” Minuteman Civil Defense Corps President Chris Simcox told an Arizona newspaper. “It’s smoke and mirrors, it’s a joke. And anybody that buys it is the fool that the president thinks they are.”
The Bush administration maintains that the troops will only be there until the Border Patrol is able to train and deploy 6,000 new officers, which is expected to take two years.
As the administration and Congress ponder the issue, illegal aliens are arriving in increased numbers, believing they will be given amnesty under a program endorsed by Washington.
(Issue #23, June 5, 2006)