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GOP Talking Point: 6,000 Guardsmen a ‘Good Start’

After a meeting with top White House strategist Karl Rove, several Republican House members repeated more or less the same talking point when asked if the 6,000 National Guardsman President Bush has now proposed sending to the 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border are enough to actually secure it.

It was, they said, “a start,” “a great start,” a “huge step forward,” “a good first step,” “a step in the right direction,” and “a great first step.”

None of the Republican members interviewed by Human Events said they believed the President’s planned deployment of 6,000 National Guardsmen—who will not actually arrest or detain illegal aliens—will be enough to secure the border. (A study published by the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus last year found that it would take an initial deployment of 36,000 National Guardsman, working with the Border Patrol, to secure the border.)

Last Monday night, on national television, President Bush laid out an immigration reform plan that included the planned National Guard deployment as well as letting illegal aliens already in the U.S. stay here and eventually become citizens. Rove described his meeting with the House Republicans to explain the President’s proposal as “hopeful, optimistic and positive.”

I caught House Republicans after their meeting with Rove and asked them if they thought 6,000 National Guardsmen could secure the border.


Are you confident 6,000 National Guardsmen will be enough to secure the border that’s 2,000 miles long?

Rep. Jeff Flake (R.-Ariz.): Not without a comprehensive solution. I don’t think anybody is under any illusion that without [that] that’s why the President is outlining a comprehensive solution. You have got to have at the employer level, and that’s the key, that in order to do that we have to take care of those who are here illegally now and provide for future labor needs and the failure of 1986 we all know was not just the amnesty, but it was the failure to do a guest-worker plan in 1986.


Bush said Monday that securing our border is an urgent national security requirement. Are 6,000 National Guardsmen patrolling 2,000 miles of border enough to do the job?

Rep. Trent Franks (R.-Ariz.): I think it’s a great start.

Even though they can’t engage in law enforcement activities?

Franks: I think it’s a great start. Just the presence of the Minutemen has had a strong deterrent effect, and I think the presence of 6,000 National Guardsmen there, I think, can’t help but have a profound effect. I sit on the Armed Services Committee and the Strategic Nuclear Forces Committee here and my biggest concern is a terrorist incursion in the country, and I think if we secure the country against terrorists, we automatically secure it against other ancillary issues, and if we know guests from terrorists, we will have solved the core problem.


Bush said Monday that securing the border was an urgent national security requirement. Are 6,000 National Guardsmen patrolling a 2,000-mile border enough to secure it?

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R.-Tex.): It’s a start, that’s it. It’s a start.

Do you think it’s a good short-term solution?

Gohmert: It’s a start for a short-term solution, and that’s all I can tell you. It’s a start for a short-term solution. It is not the solution, it’s a start.

What do you think would have been a better beginning? Is this a place that you think you can begin to talk and shift more people your way?

Gohmert: Sure. It’s a good starting point. It’s a very good starting point, but I’ve mentioned to the President, whom I think the world of, that really until you secure the border, it doesn’t matter what kind of program you work out, guest-worker or otherwise, it doesn’t matter. You secure the border, until then programs don’t matter because you can’t control who’s coming and who you are keeping out.

Do you think it’s misleading in any way that we were told there are National Guardsmen at the border and yet they can’t engage in any law enforcement activities?

Gohmert: That could change, too, but they will help with surveillance and that isn’t bad. If we have enough border patrol that can swoop in and deal with the enforcement aspect, then they are a big assistance.


President Bush said on Monday that securing our border was an urgent national requirement. Do you think 6,000 National Guardsmen along a 2,000-mile long border is enough to get the job done?

House Intelligence Chairman Pete Hoekstra (R.-Mich.): It’s another huge step forward. We’ve increased the number of border agents by one-third over the last number of years. Having 6,000 National Guard with expertise to support the Border Patrol is one more step in the right direction. Once they get there and we see the kind of progress that they’re making, that will give us a better indication of exactly how many more resources we will have to put in.

Do you think Bush’s plan, with all five cylinders going, will be enough to secure the border by November?

Hoekstra: Oh, I don’t know.

Do you feel confident in the five-point plan he laid out?

Hoekstra: I’m confident there will be a number of steps in the right direction and then we’ll assess where we are at and what else we need to do.


Bush said Monday that securing our border was an urgent national security requirement. Do you think 6,000 National Guardsmen are enough to secure the 2,000-mile long border?

Rep. Steve King (R.-Iowa): Yes. I think it’s an appropriate short-term measure.

Even though they can’t engage in law-enforcement activities? The President said they were going to be assisting the Border Patrol.

King: My understanding is it that they are going to be doing the things that the Border Patrol is doing now that makes it so they can’t do the actual enforcement. So, it’s logistics kinds of things that need to be done in the background to put the Border Patrol where they need to be to solve the problems.

And the way that you’ve understood it that will be effective?

King: It will certainly be more effective than what we are doing today. It’s a good first step, it’s a step in the right direction, but it’s a short-term solution to the real solution, which is to do whatever it takes along that border. Be it people, unmanned aircraft, trip wire, fences, whatever it takes to make sure we do secure the border.


Bush said Monday securing our border was an urgent national security requirement. Are 6,000 National Guardsmen enough to secure the 2,000 mile border?

Rep. Deborah Pryce (R.-Ohio): I think it certainly is a step in the right direction, but I’m not a military expert or a border expert. I don’t think we can go wrong with 6,000, we’ll just see how we go.


You’re from a border state, on the immigration caucus, Bush said Monday securing our border was an urgent security requirement. Do you think 6,000 National Guardsmen along a 2,000-mile long border are going to be enough to secure it?

Rep. Pete Sessions (R.-Tex.): I think that’s a great first step, but the House has passed a package … We believe the President should immediately implement that. Congress is ready to give him the money. We are asking that the House version be passed immediately. He could implement every single part of that and get that done, and we intend to support that package. We are not interested in a comprehensive package [that includes a guest-worker/amnesty plan] because the country will not focus itself properly until we do.

Okay, so the House will still stand firm on getting enforcement done and then talk guest-worker.

Sessions: Absolutely. Absolutely. And to do anything different would be a colossal mistake for the country.


Bush said on Monday that securing our border was an urgent national security requirement. Are 6,000 National Guardsmen on a 2,000-mile long border enough to secure it?

Rep. Clay Shaw (R.-Fla.): It’s enough to help out. You’re never going to plug the border, but you can stop the flow.

So even though they can’t engage in law-enforcement activities and are going to be assisting, you think it’s going to be enough to make an impact?

Shaw: Our bill that passed the House will do that. And this is the National Guard, this isn’t the Army, and the National Guard is trained in law enforcement. You saw it down in New Orleans. They have law enforcement [skills].

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Written By

Miss Carpenter was formerly a congressional correspondent & assistant editor for HUMAN EVENTS. She is the author of "The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy's Dossier on Hillary Rodham Clinton," published by Regnery (a HUMAN EVENTS sister company).

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