Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Say It Ain't So, Mr. President! President Obama Proposes National Guard To Border, A Window Dressing "Fix" To our Broken Immigration System

Yesterday, President Obama joined Senate Republicans at their weekly caucus lunch. Touching on a number of items in his legislative agenda, the administration sought the meeting with Senate Republicans in an attempt to forge better working relations with Republican Senators. Immediately following the meeting an administration official acknowledged that the White House plans to send 1,200 National Guardsmen to the southern border. The following is a statement from Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum:

"Two weeks ago, community groups and immigration advocates presented border security recommendations to the White House that would keep border communities safe and ensure integrity and accountability in border enforcement operations. Instead, the administration chose to parrot the stale "border security first" talking points hyped by opponents of comprehensive immigration reform and will send 1200 National Guardsmen to the border.

This unfortunate pandering is not based on facts and directly contradicts what the Obama Administration has said about border security. Secretary Napolitano, as well as Assistant Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement John Morton and Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin, testified before Congress as recently as last month that we have unprecedented resources at the southern border and that our border is 'as secure now as it has ever been.'

Deploying additional National Guard without a clear strategy is political posturing, not a solution and is a misuse of federal resources. The National Guard is not trained in law enforcement, and their effectiveness on the border will be limited. In fact, National Guard in Arizona testified to the state legislature in January 2010 that being deployed to the border would be bad for Guard morale.

Supplemental funds to improve ports of entry, better training for border patrol and enforcement agents, or an increase in effective technologies would be a smarter use of funds that would put quality border policy ahead of political convenience. Unfortunately, today's decision is quantity at the expense of quality.

Just as Arizona's discriminatory new law pretends to "solve" our dysfunctional immigration system, sending National Guard to our southern border masquerades as an effective response.

The truth is, a massive buildup of personnel, infrastructure and technology has been growing at the border for years. Over the past nine years, the number of Border Patrol agents has more than doubled and are supported by legions of federal law enforcement officials. DHS has constructed nearly 650 miles of fencing and a vast array of technological surveillance equipment our borders. What the border needs now is upgraded ports of entry with adequate staffing, and improved oversight and accountability from CBP, not military troops.

Calling in the National Guard will not fix what ails us. The real solution lies with comprehensive immigration reform which would decrease the pressure on the border, enhance the security of ports of entry, and provide a system for immigrants to go through instead of around. Without true immigration reform, billions more will be wasted on misguided border security measures. We need meaningful reform, not more of the same."


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