By Jordy Yager - 09/09/11 05:45 PM EDT
The Obama administration has extended the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border until the end of the year.
The Department of Defense (DOD) — at the request of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — approved funding for the National Guard troops, who have been stationed in the Southwest border region for more than a year in an effort to ramp up security against drug, gun and money traffickers, as well as illegal immigration.
“The decision to extend the National Guard’s deployment along our Southwest border is necessary to curb the illegal activity taking place along the border,” said Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chairwoman of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security.
“While this extension is a step in the right direction, I am concerned that the administration lacks a long-term strategy to secure the border. We cannot keep using short-term fixes. I call on the president and his administration to work with Congress on a comprehensive plan to secure the border.”
A DHS spokesman said that the extension of the National Guard troops is intended to buffer the flow of illegal activity along the border while the agency trains additional people to take their place. The move is a part of the administration’s Southwest Border Security strategy.
“The Department of Homeland Security is actively training new personnel and implementing new technology to enhance our border security architecture,” said DHS spokesman Matt Chandler.
“The Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with other Federal departments, is continuing to explore new options for further strengthening the already unprecedented array of resources deployed at the Southwest border. The National Guard has acted as a critical bridge while the administration brings new assets online to pursue additional people, technology, and infrastructure dedicated to effective border management and security.”
Obama has pushed hard this year to reinvigorate the immigration debate among lawmakers on Capitol Hill, pronouncing the border more secure than it has ever been.
But many Republicans argue that illegal drugs, guns, money and immigrants are still being trafficked across the Southwest border at a high rate — and until it is secured, they say, no serious talks can be had on reforming the country’s immigration system.
Obama began to intensely focus his efforts along the Southwestern border last year as he requested — and Congress approved — $600 million in additional funding to bolster the ranks and equipment of federal and local law enforcement officials in the region.
As part of those ramped up efforts, Obama authorized 1,200 National Guardsmen to be deployed in California, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas to provide material support for DHS's Operation Phalanx.