Officials update Congress on deployment of National Guard to the border
By Jennifer G. Hickey | July 27, 2018
On July 24, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security received testimony from military officials on the status of and progress made by National Guard troops deployed to the border. In April, President Trump ordered the deployment of up to 4,000 National Guard officers from states willing to provide them.
“These are the Guard personnel who are either operating aircraft and making personal observations or working camera rooms,” Rodolfo Karisch, the Border Patrol chief in Tucson, the agency’s busiest sector, told the subcommittee.
The Border Patrol credits the troops with aiding about 11,000 apprehensions — nearly one of every 10 migrants caught along the southwest border since the operation began.
“Any assistance we can get down on that border helps us,” he said, adding his experience has shown him that “an unsecured border threatens our country and our communities—and that operational control of the border is a matter of national security.”
He further noted that after a 45-year low in the number of apprehensions at the border, there has been an increase in apprehensions over the past year, and a shift in the demographics of those attempting illegal entry.
Ranking member Filemon Vela Jr., (D-Texas) said he feared the deployment, which he called a “horrendous idea,” lacked any goals and that “time and resources are being misspent on a deployment that maybe nothing more than political show.”
Chairwoman Rep. Martha McSally (R-Arizona), who is an Air Force veteran, said the deployment is a valuable training exercise for National Guard members – one which she “wholeheartedly supports.”
She added that the deployment is necessary to continuing to fight the flow of drugs, criminal activity and illegal immigration, which pose not only a “threat to our communities and families but also our rule of law.”
“This is an important national security and community issue, multifaceted to include the opioids and other things,” she said after the hearing of the House Homeland Security’s Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee. “This is overall a very positive thing.”