Monday, July 19, 2010
In addition to the roughly 524 National Guard troops that the administration has previously promised to send to the Arizona-Mexico border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced on Monday that hundreds of additional Border Patrol agents and customs officers will also be sent to the area.
"We are also reassigning major technology assets, including mobile surveillance systems, thermal-imaging binocular units, and trucks equipped with detection scopes, as well as observation and utility aircraft," Napolitano said in a guest column in the Arizona Republic.
Up to 1200 Guard troops will be deployed to the Southwest in total, and the troops will train and be fully deployed by September, reports The Associated Press. They are slated to be stationed on the border for a year, and will be working in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.
The Republic also spoke to a government official, interviewed on condition of anonymity, who said Napolitano will be sending over 300 Border Patrol agents and port inspectors to the Tucson Sector, while also shifting 100 existing ICE personnel to be on duty across Arizona state.
The Obama administration has publicly decried Arizona's new law, scheduled to start being enforced July 20, and the Justice Department is suing to block the bill on the grounds that it attempts to usurp the power of the federal government.
Instead, President Obama has outlined an approach to immigration reform that would include a process to allow illegal immigrants to gain residency by paying back taxes and passing background checks, among other stipulations.
In her column for the Republic, Napolitano reiterated that security along the U.S.-Mexico border has improved in recent years. "Despite what those looking to score political points may tell you, the numbers show we are moving in the right direction," she wrote. "Last year, illegal crossings along the Southwest border were down 23 percent...And, by all measurable standards, crime levels in U.S. border towns have remained flat for most of the last decade."
Yet recent polls show that most Americans support even tougher laws against illegal immigration. A Gallup poll this month found that a majority of Americans responded badly to the Justice Department's lawsuit against the Arizona bill, with 50 percent of respondents reporting a negative initial reaction, while only 33 percent reacted positively.
"This means the Obama administration is sailing against the tide of public opinion in its efforts to block the law," Gallup reported. Source: DailyNews