6,000 Guardsmen Are Not Enough

President Bush should be commended for at least showing he is listening to House members and the overwhelming majority of the American people by agreeing to send even some National Guard to our lawless border with Mexico.

He has potentially taken at least a first step in the right direction with his proposal to use our National Guard to provide border security. Now the debate is no longer whether to send them, just how many.

The speech was a first for not only Bush, but for any President in recent history—official acknowledgement of our national nightmare problems from illegal immigration. Congress should take that as an extended hand and get to work showing the President how to improve his plan so it will actually work.

Improvement is mandatory. The specific proposal is too weak in terms of manpower and missions and will not secure the border. Deploying only 6,000 troops for a 2,000-mile border is a maximum of one man on duty per mile per eight-hour shift. Couple that with the fact that none of the troops will even be posted on the border, and that any increase in border presence will be a result of Border Patrol administrative personnel being freed up for patrol duty.

The net result is that the President’s plan will do nothing to slow the flood of illegal aliens pouring into the country across the Southern border.

The American people are tired of waiting for a secure border. They want it now, because they know this problem is getting worse every day we leave our Southern border open.

Increased technology and infrastructure is a great idea—but it takes years to get in place, and the public patience on this issue is 100% used up.

The political tragedy is that had the President called for a 40,000-man deployment, announced that the United States was fed up with having our borders violated and was putting a stop to it, his approval rating would be back in the 50s if not higher. What an extraordinary missed opportunity!

The people in my district are ready to throw anybody and everybody out of office who won’t bring this nightmare to a stop. The plan the President proposed is not what the American people want.

The President said we can’t have a secure border without a new guest-worker program. In fact, the opposite is true—we can’t have a new guest-worker program without a secure border first. There is no way the House will vote for any new guest-worker plan or how to handle the illegal aliens already in the country until the border is shut down to all but legal traffic.

We have a very good idea of the correct number of people necessary to secure the border with our current infrastructure and technology. The same figures keep coming back from past Border Patrol demonstration projects, the Minutemen project and from senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security. Somewhere between 36,000 and 50,000 troops are necessary to do the job. Some say 60,000.

To send 6,000 is a small first step, and should be taken as just that. The real potential of the President’s decision should be to pave the way for a full deployment over the next several months that will secure our Southern border against a Mexican government that refuses to acknowledge it and officially encourages their citizens to violate our laws and our sovereignty as their “right.”

The House and Senate should encourage the President’s call for troops to the border by committing to provide funding for up to a five-year military deployment of 48,000 troops, estimated at $2.5 billion per year.

We can support the President’s initial deployment of 6,000 troops while Congress moves to approve funds for a long-term deployment. It will also give us several weeks to observe the lack of impact of 6,000 troops on halting illegal immigration.

However, even a properly manned long-term troop deployment is just part of a successful comprehensive plan to combat illegal immigration. Such a plan must include total rejection of any hint of amnesty for those who have broken our laws in coming here. Period.