Obama to deploy National Guard troops to U.S.-Mexico border

President Barack Obama will deploy 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to help quell violence there, according to an administration official.

The official said the troops will be sent "to provide intelligence; surveillance and reconnaissance support; intelligence analysis; immediate support to counternarcotics enforcement; and training capacity until Customs and Border Patrol can recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve on the border."

The president is requesting $500 million in supplementary funds for border security.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who represents a district in the southern part of the state, said Obama will announce the deployment along with the supplementary funding for extra border security and law enforcement.

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“The White House is doing the right thing,” Giffords said in a statement. "The fulfillment of my request is a clear sign that this administration is beginning to take border security seriously." 

Arizona lawmakers from both parties have been calling on the Obama administration to send National Guard troops to help secure the border after a string of violence and drug cartel activity in recent months. One attack left an Arizona rancher dead in March.

In response, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) signed a controversial immigration law that compels state law enforcement to ask for identification from individuals believed to be in the country illegally, if they are stopped for another cause.

Brewer said she authorized the legislation because the federal government has failed to secure the border.

Obama has called the law, which critics say could lead to racial profiling, "misguided" but also pledged that the federal government would do more to provide border security.

The 1,200 troops is short of the 3,000 National Guard troops and 3,000 Border Security officers Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) requested.

Officials have debated whether to send a federal presence to the border, especially after 17,000 National Guard troops were sent to the Gulf of Mexico region to assist with recovery efforts following the massive oil spill there.

Obama's steps on Tuesday to address border security come just a week after he hosted Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the White House, where both men condemned the Arizona immigration law.

The White House official said the act will "help build on and complement the strong security partnership with Mexico on display during last week’s State Visit."

Obama discussed immigration with GOP senators during a caucus meeting on the Hill Tuesday. The president "noted that many in the conference have supported efforts before to fix a broken system and impose accountability at our borders; accountability for employers who undercut the law by hiring undocumented workers; and for the workers themselves, who are here illegally and must take responsibility," according to White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

Gibbs said Obama urged GOP lawmakers to "work with him across party lines to make progress on this issue."

The White House official said Obama will "continue to work with Congress to fix our broken immigration system through comprehensive reform, which would provide lasting and dedicated resources by which to secure our borders and make our communities safer."

This post was updated at 3:22 p.m.

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