WASHINGTON — About 1,200 National Guard troops will support the Homeland Security Department in enhancing the security of the nation’s Southwest border, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said here this week.
The Guardsmen will assist in ongoing efforts to secure the border and combat cartels, Napolitano said during remarks June 22 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about ongoing Homeland Security initiatives and new strategies to bolster border security and enforce immigration laws.
The National Guard deployments have worked over the last 20 years in a coordinated fashion that frees up border patrol agents for other aspects of their duties, David Aguilar, deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said during a panel discussion following Napolitano’s remarks.
“Support from the National Guard — but yet a clear division: them not arresting, not engaging in enforcement activities directly attributed to any illegal crossings of either aliens, narcotics or things of that nature …
has worked out very well,” Aguilar said. “The National Guard … will bring us a tremendous amount of capability in securing our borders.”
Homeland Security officials work with federal, state, local, tribal and Mexican partners to crack down on border-related crime and smuggling while facilitating legitimate travel and commerce.
President Barack Obama has requested $500 million in supplemental funds for enhanced border security and law enforcement activities in addition to the deployment of National Guard troops.
Napolitano announced several additional initiatives that include creating new partnerships with state and local law enforcement, building information-sharing capabilities, enhancing technology, prioritizing the arrest and removal of dangerous criminal aliens and expanding unprecedented law enforcement partnerships with Mexico.
The National Guard supported the border security mission during Operation Jump Start from 2006 to 2008. The latest mission, employing 1,200 volunteers drawn from the four border states, will provide criminal investigative analysis and entry identification teams that will monitor the border from strategic observation points with state-of-the-art surveillance and detection tactics and technology for one year.
The deployment of National Guard troops is part of a multi-layered effort targeting illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons and money, Guard officials said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)