Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Bush to Send Up to 6,000 Troops to Border

Expand Messages
  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060516/ap_on_go_pr_wh/immigration;_ylt=Ak40.TLYL6xTQvL8L2DEwFKs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ-- Bush to Send Up to 6,000
    Message 1 of 1 , May 15, 2006
    • 0 Attachment

      Bush to Send Up to 6,000 Troops to Border

      By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer 3 minutes

      WASHINGTON - President Bush, trying to build support
      for a major overhaul of the nation's tattered
      immigration laws, said Monday night he would order as
      many as 6,000 National Guard troops to secure the U.S.
      border with Mexico and urged Congress to give millions
      of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship.

      "We do not yet have full control of the border and I
      am determined to change that," the president said in a
      17-minute prime-time address from the Oval Office.

      Bush gave strong support to a plan that would give
      many of the 12 million illegal immigrants in the
      United States an eventual path to possible citizenship
      — a move derided by some conservatives in his own
      Republican Party as amnesty. He rejected that term.

      "It is neither wise nor realistic to round up millions
      of people, many with deep roots in the United States
      and send them across the border," he said. "There is a
      rational middle ground between granting an automatic
      path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a
      program of mass deportation."

      The Guard troops would mostly serve two-week stints
      before rotating out of the assignment, so keeping the
      force level at 6,000 over the course of a year could
      require up to 156,000 troops.

      Still, Bush insisted, "The United States is not going
      to militarize the southern border."

      The White House wouldn't say how much the deployments
      would cost, but said the troops would paid for as part
      of $1.9 billion being requested from Congress to
      supplement border enforcement this year.

      The president timed his speech hours after the Senate
      began intense debate on an immigration bill that has
      been getting increasing attention in a year when all
      House seats and one-third of Senate seats are up for
      election. The rare televised, prime-time Oval Office
      address signified the high stakes for Bush, who has
      been asking for an immigration overhaul since his the
      2000 campaign.

      House Majority Whip Roy Blunt, R-Mo., indicated Bush
      may have some trouble getting some conservatives on
      board with his overall plan.

      "While I appreciate the president's willingness to
      tackle big problems, I have real concerns about moving
      forward with a guest worker program or a plan to
      address those currently in the United States illegally
      until we have adequately addressed our serious border
      security problems," Blunt said.

      Bush said the National Guard troops would fill in
      temporarily while the nation's Border Patrol force is
      expanded. He asked Congress to add 6,000 more Border
      Patrol agents by the end of his presidency and to add
      6,700 more beds so illegal immigrants can be detained
      while waiting for hearings to determine that they can
      be sent home.

      For many years, the government has not had enough
      detention space to hold illegal immigrants, so they
      were released into society and most did not return for
      their court date. "This practice, called catch and
      release, is unacceptable and we will end it," Bush

      The Border Patrol would remain responsible for
      catching and detaining illegal immigrants, with
      National Guard troops providing intelligence
      gathering, surveillance and other administrative
      support. Yet the National Guard troops would still be
      armed and authorized to use force to protect
      themselves, said Bush homeland security adviser Fran

      They are to come from the four border states —
      California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas — but those
      states' governors may also seek Guard troops from
      other states. Reaction was mixed among the nation's

      California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said troops
      might provide short-term relief but he did not believe
      border protection was an appropriate role for the
      National Guard. California has thousands of Guard
      troops in
      Iraq and might need them in case of earthquakes,
      floods or other emergencies, he said.

      "So if you have 6,000 in Iraq and send another 6,000
      to the border, what do we have left?" Schwarzenegger

      But another Republican border state governor, Rick
      Perry of Texas, said he was glad the administration
      had decided the Guard had a role to play along the
      border. "We have the ability to multitask," Perry

      The White House hopes deployments to the border will
      begin in early June.

      Many congressional Republicans said they supported
      Bush's plan to use National Guard troops at the
      border. But he ran into criticism from Democrats and
      some other Republicans.

      "Democrats are willing to support any reasonable plan
      that will secure our borders, including deploying
      National Guard troops," said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
      "But Americans don't want a plan that's been cobbled
      together to win political favor. This cannot turn into
      another long-term military deployment with no clear

      Bush said the nation has more than doubled the size of
      the Border Patrol during his presidency and has sent
      home about 6 million people entering the United States
      illegally. Still, he said, that has not been enough.

      "For decades, the United States has not been in
      complete control of its borders," the president said.
      "As a result, many who want to work in our economy
      have been able to sneak across our border, and
      millions have stayed."

      He called for enactment of a guest worker program to
      allow immigrants to take low-paying jobs, and he said
      employers must be held to account for hiring illegal
      immigrants. He said that a tamperproof identification
      card for workers would "leave employers with no
      excuse" for violating the law.

      And he stressed that those who want to earn
      citizenship should have to assimilate into society,
      learn English, pay fines for breaking the law and pay
      back taxes.

      "What I have just described is not amnesty," Bush
      said. "It is a way for those who have broken the law
      to pay their debt to society and demonstrate the
      character that makes a good citizen."

      The president's call for tougher border security is
      part of a broader plan to overhaul a system that he
      has described as inhumane, with desperate foreigners
      risking their lives for a chance to earn U.S. wages.
      The issue raises emotions on all sides, with many
      Americans and influential conservatives in Congress
      angry that foreigners are taking jobs and draining
      resources across the country.

      The White House hopes that the tougher security will
      be enough to get House conservatives to support the
      work permits and citizenship proposals that they have
      been opposed to. A bill that passed the House last
      year ignored those ideas and instead would increase
      criminal penalties for illegal immigrants and
      construct 700 miles of fencing.

      Bush addressed some of his comments to lawmakers,
      calling on the Senate to act by the end of the month
      so a compromise can be reached with the House. "I want
      to speak directly to Members of the House and the
      Senate: An immigration reform bill needs to be
      comprehensive, because all elements of this problem
      must be addressed together, or none of them will be
      solved at all."
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.