Obama to send 1,200 troops to U.S.-Mexico border
(AP) - Under pressure to take action, PresidentBarack Obama on Tuesday ordered 1,200 National Guard troops toboost security along the U.S.-Mexico border, pre-empting Republicanefforts to force a congressional vote to send the troops.
Obama will also request $500 million for border protection andlaw enforcement activities, according to lawmakers andadministration officials.
The president's action comes as chances for comprehensiveimmigration reform, Obama's long-stated goal, look increasingly dimin this election year. Obama has been all but compelled to dosomething since Arizona's passage of a tough illegal-immigrationlaw thrust the border problem into the public spotlight.
In 2006, President George W. Bush sent thousands of troops tothe border to perform support duties that tie up immigrationagents. The troops wouldn't perform significant law enforcementduties.
That program has since ended, and politicians in border stateshave called for troops to be sent there to curb human and drugsmuggling and prevent Mexico's drug violence from spilling overinto the United States.
The National Guard troops will work on intelligence,surveillance and reconnaissance support, analysis and training, andsupport efforts to block drug trafficking. They will temporarilysupplement Border Patrol agents until Customs and Border Protectioncan recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve onthe border, according to a letter Tuesday from top administrationsecurity officials to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman CarlLevin, D-Mich.