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Separating reality from spin


It Will Take 36,000 Troops for Border

Separating reality from spin

Earlier this year Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano announced a “state of emergency” for the Arizona border due to the flood of illegal immigration, and ordered her National Guard to the border with Mexico.

The “deployment” consisted of about 170 Guardsmen, who were assigned to help inspect cargo shipments coming through legal entry points, which does nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigration one whit. But even if they had been assigned to real border patrol duty, that’s less that one soldier for every 2 miles of Arizona‘s border with Mexico.

The “deployment” was simply a public relations stunt to persuade the public that a governor who has supported de facto open borders and illegal immigrant rights her entire political career is suddenly tough on illegal immigration.

President Bush’s address to the nation will focus on immigration reform, and multiple media leaks indicate it may include a plan to use troops on the border with Mexico.

That proposal has already been actively lobbied for by multiple members of Congress, and garners somewhere between 60% and 90% approval in public opinion polls — a real crowd pleaser.

But will the proposal be real, or just spin?

The truth will lie in the proposed numbers, and whether the plan is for a short-term demonstration project or a long-term strategy for truly securing our southern border.

A real plan has already been proposed, with full details and research data included in last year’s Immigration Reform Caucus special report, “Results and Implications of the Minutemen Project.”

Under that plan, the southern border can be virtually closed except at legal points of entry within a one-month period — at the longest. The flood of illegal immigration that has plagued America since the last amnesty plan in 1986 will be over.

It will initially take 36,000 troops. At the start, they should be National Guard personnel drawn nationally. There isn’t enough National Guard in the border states alone to do the job without hindering combat readiness, so the forces will need to be pulled from other states as well under current National Guard Bureau assistance regulations.

The 36,000 troops will provide an average of three two-man teams per border mile for the entire 1,951-mile border with Mexico, working eight-hour shifts. Once in place on the ground, the deployment will need to be increased to 48,000 troops, to provide necessary manpower for time-off, sick leave, and long-term support services.

From the day the first National Guard boot hits the desert sand, we will need to expend all efforts to replace them as soon as possible through use of every other available resources. Our Guard is stressed to the max with missions in Iraq and Afghanistan; they can’t be left on duty in the desert long-term. The first goal should be to return every initial deployed Guardsman back home in 90 days.

Immediate replacements should be called up from our Civil Air Patrol, State Defense Forces, and Coast Guard Auxiliary. We should also consider initiating a permanent, volunteer U.S. Border Patrol Auxiliary, with the same support functions as the Civil Air Patrol to the U.S. Air Force, or the Coast Guard Auxiliary to the Coast Guard proper.

As these personnel come online, the corresponding number of National Guard troops can be discharged. The President will need to make a bully pulpit call to rejuvenate our State Defense Forces, the reserve to the National Guard, for this mission. We have unfortunately allowed these state-level military reserves to drop from WWII levels of 175,000 troops to just 15,000 today, so this in fact would be a big help in America’s overall homeland security, not just in securing our borders.

These military auxiliary forces should in turn be replaced as rapidly as possible by federal troops returning from overseas duty, with an estimated 70,000 on the way now as a result of BRAC. Seems we’ve had no problems securing half the borders of the world, we just can’t find a way to secure our own.

Within a year, we should have replaced all our initially deployed National Guard and military auxiliary forces, and have the border under fulltime federal control with an estimated 50,000 Department of Defense troops in the field in addition to our current Border Patrol.

America‘s nightmare on the border would be over, permanently, starting within a week of an Executive Order by the President, with no new laws required.

If President Bush signed that order Monday night, our border would be secure for the first time in decades by Memorial Day at the latest. Mexico President Vicente Fox and La Raza wouldn’t like it — but the American people sure would.

Estimated costs are around $2.5 billion per year — a bargain, compared to what our immigration disaster is already costing American taxpayers.

Once the border is secure, we can began installing the new infrastructure and technology that will allow us to permanently secure the nation — fencing, lighting, sensors, roads, cameras, ultra-light aerial observation vehicles.

We will have the time to train and deploy as many new Border Patrol agents as necessary for permanent security with the new infrastructure in place.

That shouldn’t take the two years the Border Patrol is currently taking. There’s no reason we can’t have a 90-day Border Patrol boot camp like we do for our U.S. Marines. True, we might not be able to get them fluent in Spanish in 90 days, but I don’t recall us requiring our Marines be fluent in Arabic before sending them off to Iraq.

Some estimate the permanent expanded number of Border Patrol agents needed with the infrastructure and technology in place at 25,000. But the beauty of having the border secure up front is that we can take our time in determining that number, and get it right. The same luxury applies to our infrastructure decisions.

We can probably expect those improvements to take two to five years to get in place. During that timeframe, troop levels can be gradually reduced as new infrastructure is completed and new Border Patrol officers are placed in the field. Within five years, we will have a rebuilt, properly manned, and rejuvenated Border Patrol with the tools they need to get the job done.

That’s the formula for using American troops to successfully, immediately, and permanently secure our border.

With that kind of action, the President would have House Members sitting up and paying attention to any suggestion on improving our legal guest worker programs, and in dealing with illegals aliens already in the country.

But there’s another troop formula, a la Janet Napolitano, designed to win public opinion points without really changing anything, to hoodwink the House into going along with the Senate’s grotesque amnesty plan, and to leave the southern border open to new waves of illegal aliens in order to drive down American wages for employers and Wall Street.

That formula calls for a few thousand National Guard to be deployed to the border on a short-term temporary basis, with a generic mission to “assist the Border Patrol”. It would call for new technology and infrastructure, with no commitment to time certain or specifics. It would call for an increased Border Patrol, to the tune of maybe 1500 a year, with two years of training before being allowed to enter the field.

And that formula would allow waves of millions of new illegal immigrants, lured by promises of amnesty from the President and the Senate, to continue swarming across our southern border in record numbers for years to come.

We will all be waiting Monday night to discover which plan the President has in mind for America.

Written By

Mr. Norwood, a Republican, represents the 9th District of Georgia.

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