TribBlog: U.S. Troops Will Be Sent to the Border ... Again

U.S. National Guard troops will soon patrol the United States' border with Mexico — again.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, confirmed today that 1,200 National Guard troops will be deployed to the country’s border with Mexico.

The Obama administration announced the measure shortly after a closed-door meeting with Republican senators, reports The Associated Press. It is unclear how many troops will be sent to Texas.

Obama will also request an additional $500 million for border security efforts, which Cornyn said was not enough.

“While I appreciate the president's acknowledgement that his administration has done too little to secure our border, his proposal still comes up short. Temporary fixes are no solution to long-term challenges,” he said.

Cornyn instead touted his amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill, which calls for more than $1.5 billion in funds for border enforcement, including $300 million for state and local law enforcement, $360 million for border surveillance and monitoring and $144 million for six additional unmanned aerial drones. The FAA recently announced that at least one unmanned vehicle will begin making test runs over the Texas-Mexico border June 1.

In a joint statement from Texas Democrats, however, Obama's efforts were lauded as a necessary step toward increased security.

"We commend the President in making this supplemental request to augment federal, state and local law enforcement working to secure the nation’s southern border," U.S. Reps. Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio, Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Silvestre Reyes, D-El Paso; Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo; Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi; and Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, said in a statement. "We look forward to working with the White House as more information becomes available as to where and when these additional border security resources will be deployed.”

The deployment will mark the second time in less than five years that troops have been sent to the southwest border. In 2006, the Bush administration sent about 6,000 National Guard troops in an effort to supplememt the U.S. Border Patrol. The operation ended in 2008.

Update...

Cuellar said that unlike the previous effort, when the National Guard deployed troops to support the U.S. Border Patrol, they could work with local, state and federal authorities this time around.

"They could go to the local sheriff (departments), they could be assigned to DPS, and they could be assigned to Border Patrol. It looks like their purpose might be a little different. And, their purpose is not to be policemen, it's to provide support, which they have done in the past."

Several officials and politicos also weighed in on the announcement. Here is a sample of what they said:

State Rep. Aaron Peña, D-Edinburg: "Let's hope Texas — and it's 1,254 mile portion of the U.S.-Mexico border, gets its fair share of troops. We can only move towards a safer and more secure border with more boots on the ground. However, it should also be noted that extra personnel is only part of the solution. While a safer border means more boots on the ground, we need to treat causes as well as symptoms when it comes to drugs and drug related violence."

Demoratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White: "We need more federal support for border security and border regions. We need more support for local police and sheriffs, who can enforce criminal laws. National Guard troops are not a long-term substitute for sustained federal commitment to border communities."

U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Arizona: "I appreciate that the Administration has acknowledged the demands of folks across the Southwest and taken this critical step.  This is encouraging to those of us who have been pushing the federal government to end the inaction and strengthen security. I, along with many Arizonans, have spent years calling for more boots on the ground – it is about time Washington started listening to us. Deploying the National Guard is necessary to protect Arizonans right away. However, much more needs to be done."

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