Facing South

VOICES: Obama sends in the border troops

By Melissa del Bosque, Texas Observer

While conservatives have already started blaming President Obama
for not allowing the National Guard to construct gun turrets on top of
the 18-foot border wall and start blazing away, it's actually those
sissies at the Pentagon that want to make sure the 1,200 additional
troops don't engage in law enforcement duties.

According to CBS News: "Pentagon officials, worried about perceptions
that the U.S. was militarizing the border, argued that the National
Guard could only be used for particular duties. Military leaders said
they did not want National Guard troops to screen vehicles at border
points or perform any law enforcement duties, and said the program
should be temporary and not tied to any existing program that could get

So, if the Pentagon doesn't think the border needs troops, what's
this all about you ask?  Quite simply, like everything else in
Washington D.C., it's about money and elections.

That's right. As I've said before It's mid-term elections, folks. So,
batten down the hatches and get ready for the National Guard. I
Remember back in 2006,  President George W. Bush stalking through Yuma
with his shirtsleeves rolled up and backed by an impressive phalanx of
border troops. Back then the Republicans needed a bump in the polls
during mid-term elections. So we got Operation
a deployment of 6,000 soldiers. Border security (i.e. the
hordes of unwashed masses) and gay marriage helped ratchet up the voter
fear level to Red Alert.

And by God if it doesn't work every time. Nothing gets voters to the
polls faster then a good dose of fear coursing through their synapses.

Back then Senator "complete that danged fence" McCain was actually
working in a bipartisan effort to solve our broken immigration system
with Senator Kennedy. Ah, those were the days. We were so close back
then - we even had 20 Republicans supporting reform - but now, alas
things have deteriorated considerably.

McCain is clutching onto his Senate seat with all of his strength.
And the mighty anti-incumbent wind whistling through Congress is about
to blow him right out of it. Is it any accident that as McCain's polling
numbers go down in Arizona the Senator asks for more troops for
the border? First it was 3,000 in his McCain/Kyl  secure border plan.
This month it's 6,000.

Is it any accident that two of the Republican Governors (Perry and Brewer) asking for National
Guard troops on the border are currently running for re-election? The
other two (Schwarzenegger, a Republican and New Mexico's Bill
Richardson, a Democrat) have reached their term limits. This year,
Schwarzenegger didn't deploy the National Guard as he did in 2006. In
March, Richardson announced the deployment of New Mexico National Guard
troops to the border after the shooting death of an Arizona rancher in
late March.

Border law enforcement have said
consistently that they have the threat from drug cartel traffickers
under control. They frequently say they can always hire more officers
which can be funded under the federal Operation Stonegarden program.
What they don't need is military troops.

The National Guard is political window dressing, folks. A decision made by the Obama Administration after a
closed door meeting with Republican leaders yesterday. The Republicans
will not lift a finger to work on comprehensive immigration reform until
after elections in November. By being increasingly hawkish and
immovable as stone, the Grand Ol' Party is betting everything it has on
immigrant bashing this election season. "Secure the borders first," they
say. "Then we'll talk."

They said the same thing back in 2006 and 2007. The last deployment
of the National Guard by Bush in 2006 was to strengthen border security
while more Border Patrol agents were hired. We've now doubled the number
of border agents from 10,000 in 2004 to 20,000 in 2009. And according
to a March 2010 press release, Homeland Security has "doubled the number
of personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces;
tripled the number of ICE intelligence analysts working along the
U.S.-Mexico border; quadrupled deployments of Border Liaison Officers;
and begun screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal
weapons, drugs and cash--for the first time ever."

If you've been anywhere near the Texas-Mexico border these days
you'll see the skyline dotted with surveillance towers and an 18-foot
wall. Not to mention swarms of Border Patrol SUVs. All that's missing at
this point are the military tanks.

The states and the Pentagon have been bickering for nearly a year
over who should pay for this latest deployment of guardsmen. Their
bickering over the deployment is because the Pentagon brass knows the
deployment is not warranted. This time, I think elected officials should
pay for it out of their campaign accounts.


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