Q&A: Should Armed Guard Troops Be Sent to Mexico Border?

By: - March 27, 2009 12:00 am

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) recently asked the federal government to send 1,000 armed National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent drug violence from spilling over into the United States. The Obama administration is weighing Perry’s request. Stateline.org asked several experts whether they think armed citizen soldiers should be sent to the border.

This is part two in a series examining the impact of recent violence in Mexico on the United States. Yesterday, Stateline.org asked how concerned the United States should be about Mexican drug violence .

Should armed National Guard troops
be used to patrol the border with Mexico?
Why or why not?

I don’t think that’s necessary currently. It might be appropriate under the right circumstances, but I don’t think those circumstances exist currently.

We had some National Guard troops on the border for some other issues, but (Gov. Bill Richardson) has since pulled them off. I don’t think any of us have seen the need to send them back.

I think that we’re all concerned about the level of violence on the border (but) I think that some of the current (federal) plans that I’ve seen to put more border patrol agents and use some specialty people from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (are a) good, measured response for right now to beef up the expertise.

-New Mexico Attorney General Gary King (D)

Yes. It is necessary for Arizona to jump in and really start to protect itself from some of the damage caused by illegal drugs, people and other things being illegally transported both ways across the border. We cannot count on the federal government to solve our problems, as they haven’t done any solving in the past.

-Arizona state Rep. Ray Barnes (R), member, House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee

At this time it would be premature for President Obama to send the National Guard to the southern border. In 2006, President Bush sent 6,000 National Guard troops to the border to supplement border patrol agents due to a surge of illegal border crossings. Since then, Customs and Border Patrol has grown, adding 6,000 border agents, as well as new technologies and resources. Before sending the National Guard, the Obama administration must carefully evaluate the situation and the border and develop a sound mission and goals.

-James Jay Carafano, senior research fellow, Heritage Foundation, Washington, D.C.

The militarization of the border, prior to there being an invasion on U.S. soil, is premature.

We train our border patrol agents for observation, detection and apprehension of illegal immigrants and illegal substances coming across the border. We train our National Guard people for combat situations. I really think it would be a big mistake, without having some kind of invasion on U.S. soil, to call out combat troops and ask them to do the job of the border patrol, which is enforcing immigration law and enforcing our laws regarding bringing substances into the country.

-El Paso, Texas, Mayor John Cook

I think it is a good idea, and the reason for that is there are many, many miles of border. Good criminals are not going to go through the checkpoints. They’re going to find the least…resistance, which is what they’re doing now. It’s a wide open space.

Most of the illegal aliens coming through are probably not armed. However, there are some (in) the criminal element that are carrying weapons. They will shoot first so, in my opinion, if (the National Guard) is going to be out there doing their job, they need to be armed.

-Randall Rhyne, president, Texas Narcotics Officers’ Association

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Stateline staff
Stateline staff

Stateline’s team of veteran journalists combines original reporting with a roundup of the latest news from sources around the country.