Editorial: Sending troops to the Mexican border | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Editorial: Sending troops to the Mexican border

Since President Bush’s speech last week outlining a plan to send 6,000 National Guard troops to aid the patrol of the border with Mexico – and the bigger issue of an amnesty program for the millions of illegal immigrants already here – there has been much debate about using troops for such an endeavor. A popular opinion is that it is an incorrect use of those forces.

While critics may not agree with the move, and would prefer a) an increase in the number of border patrol employees over time, without troop support, or b) no increased law enforcement presence at all on the border, the use of troops to secure the border is hardly outside of the National Guard’s purview.

In addition to deployment to places like Kosovo, and most recently Iraq, the guard functions as a domestic force during both state and federal emergencies. The mission includes “to maintain properly trained and equipped units, available for prompt mobilization for war, national emergency, or as otherwise needed,” according to the guard Web site.

Regardless of opinions about whether illegal immigration is a serious issue that needs immediate action, it certainly can be considered as such by the president. In the case of illegal immigration – as in emergencies such as hurricanes, fires or flooding – the president is well within his powers to use the guard’s resources to help secure the border.

While the guard is not authorized to function as law enforcement, it will be empowered to take a supporting role, which will allow, the administration says, more border patrol agents to be out in the field. The move will supplement the border patrol as it hires and trains additional agents to keep up with demand, according to the administration.

Whether or not National Guard units should be used for border duty is a worthwhile debate to have. But it’s hard to debate that they can be used for this type of mission.

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