National Guard's Power at US, Mexican Border Limited: Guard Troops Unable to Arrest Undocumented Immigrants
Republicans have called for the Obama administration to send the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border to slow the influx of undocumented immigrants, but the Guard's responsibilities are limited.
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he called for 1,000 National Guard troops for the border "some four years ago." Perry repeated the concept of temporarily sending 1,000 National Guard troops until "some 3,000 more border patrol agents" receive the necessary training and replace them.
"[Border patrol agents] need to be right on the river. They need to be there as a show of force, because that's the message that gets sent back very quickly to Central America," said Perry. "And it's important to do that, because this flood of children is pulling away the border patrol from their normal duties of keeping bad people, keeping the drug cartels, they're being distracted, so that I would suggest is a very obvious reason that those National Guard troops should come play an important role."
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, has voiced support for putting the National Guard at the border, as it is "uniquely qualified" to respond to the increased number of immigrant children and families crossing the border.
It wouldn't be the first time the National Guard was deployed to the southern border, as President George W. Bush sent 6,000 guard troops to help slow the arrivals of undocumented immigrants.
But the National Guard is not allowed to apprehend anyone and prevent them from crossing in the U.S. According to the Government Accountability Office, the National Guard assisted in over 186,000 apprehensions between 2006 and 2008. In 2010, President Barack Obama sent 1,200 guard troops to the border; they reportedly assisted in 4,000 undocumented immigration arrests in Texas. Since 2010, the number of National Guard troops has been reduced to 300. In addition, their mission has shifted from boots on the ground to eyes in the skies.
On "Fox News Sunday," Perry was reminded that law does not allow the National Guard troops to arrest or shoot migrants. According to Perry, the visual of having the National Guard at the border is important.
"[My] point is, you bring boots on the ground to send that message clearly, both visually and otherwise," Perry said. "At that particular point in time, I think this flow from Central America gets staunched by a substantial margin. The president would be wise to put those National Guard troops on the border, and he doesn't have to have Congress' approval for that."
Obama said he is open to the idea of sending more National Guard troops to the border, but it would likely be a temporary fix. Obama has asked Congress to approve $3.7 billion in funding for border security. Perry claimed that less than $100 million of Obama's budget request would go toward border security. Boehner said Obama's budget request is "all more about continuing to deal with the problem."
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