Militarization of Border Will be Temporary
President Bush has told Mexico’s president that a program to use the military to fight illegal aliens will a temporarily stop-gap to allow the Border Patrol to grow.
Mexican President Vicente Fox called to express concern over the prospect of militarization of the border, and Bush reassured him that it would be only a temporary measure to bolster overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, the White House said. “The president made clear that the United States considers Mexico a friend and that what is being considered is not militarization of the border but support of Border Patrol capabilities on a temporary basis by National Guard personnel,” said White House spokeswoman Maria Tamburri.
Yet the idea has further stirred an already volatile debate about immigration on both sides of the border even before the president makes his prime-time speech from the Oval Office at 8 p.m. A number of Democrats and even a few key Republicans voiced skepticism or outright opposition to the reported plan yesterday, calling it a politically motivated move that will only further strain units already stretched by duty in Iraq without solving the underlying problem of illegal immigration. “We have to be very careful here,” Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said yesterday on ABC’s “This Week.” “That’s not the role of our military. That’s not the role of our National Guard. . . . That’s a short-term fix, and I’m not sure that’s a very wise fix.”
Our inability to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the border virtually at will is longstanding. The impact of augmenting the border patrol for some fixed period, even if relatively effective, would end the second forces are withdrawn unless the Border Patrol is beefed up to a commensurate level in the interim.
Apparently, that’s the plan:
White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley went on television Sunday to emphasize that no final decision on sending the troops had been made. He said the idea was to “provide a bit of a stopgap as the Border Patrol build up their capacity to deal with this challenge. “This is something that’s actually already being done. It’s not about militarization of the border,” Hadley said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”
I’m not sure if “irony” is the right word but I find the parallels between this and Iraq somewhat amusing. Still, how long can it possibly take to train effective Border Patrol agents? The initial training course is 19 weeks. It’s not like arresting unarmed migrants is as difficult as counterinsurgency, so one would think we could pair newly trained officers with veteran officers and put them to work. So, why take the ridiculous step of militarizing the border as a stop-gap?