July 22, 2006
On the border with the Guard

Just wanted to note this Chron story from yesterday about the so-far-successful deployment of National Guard troops to the US/Mexico border, where they are supplementing Border Patrol personnel.

Guard and patrol officials said the month-old deployment of troops to the border is working as planned, enabling at least three dozen patrol agents to return to law enforcement duties. More than 100 soldiers have arrived and by the end of August there could be 300, said Lt. Col. Rick Noriega of Houston, commander of guard troops in the patrol's Laredo sector.

Unlike other border states, Texas has been able to meet Pentagon staffing goals with in-state volunteers for a mission expected to last two years. Although it has taken several weeks to muster and train the first wave of troops, they've been well received by the patrol and this border community, Noriega said.

"This has been a task that they (patrol) have done with the utmost professionalism. We're just pleased to have made this relationship work in a very meaningful way," he said.

Patrol acting sector Chief Reynaldo Garza described the collaboration as "very successful" because it quickly allowed the patrol to achieve one of the objectives established by President Bush when he ordered the deployment on May 15.

"We've been able to reach one of our objectives ... to return Border Patrol agents to the border to do the work that agents should be doing as opposed to clerical or camera operations-type surveillance duties," Garza said.

For the first time here, officials showed the news media the kinds of tasks the Guard has assumed alongside patrol agents.

"We have to dispel a lot of what was perceived was going to happen when they announced that the Guard was going to be deployed," Noriega said.

So far, so good. There's two items of note here. First, regarding the "invasion" of the borders:

So far, no significant change in arrest data has been noted, Garza said, but in the past two weeks the Guard members assisted in seizing 2,200 pounds of marijuana and 138 pounds of cocaine.

Maybe we should be deploying troops to the northern border instead. Maybe that's where all the real action is.

And item two:

The Guard will have a further impact on smuggling when engineering specialists arrive to build barriers and fences in high-traffic areas, Garza said.

"To say a 'wall' is a misnomer," he said. "You will see some work, but it won't be miles and miles, and it definitely will not be the entire 2,000 miles. It's impossible."

Next time someone suggests building a wall along the border, tell him or her to talk to Chief Garza.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 22, 2006 to National news | TrackBack