National Immigration Forum

Practical Solutions for Immigrants and America

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National Guard Troops Drawdown is a Smart Way to Prioritize Resources

December 21, 2011

Washington, D.C.The Obama Administration announced on Tuesday the reduction of National Guard troops at the Southwest border from 1,200 to 300 in 2012. The Guard had been deployed on a temporary basis since August 1, 2010, to assist Department of Homeland Security Border Patrol agents along the Southwest border. They were originally scheduled to withdraw on June 30, 2011, but the Administration extended the deployment through December 31, 2011. The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum.

“We applaud the Obama Administration for making the fiscally sound decision to reduce the number of National Guard troops at our Southwest border. The National Guard deployment has been a costly, redundant and morale-draining initiative that was a diversion from the Guard’s honorable mission.

At a time when our nation needs to root out waste and inefficiency from the federal budget, it makes sense to examine the cost-effectiveness of our current border enforcement resources. The initial decision to deploy the National Guard to the border — which eventually added up to a $160 million price tag for American taxpayers — was more in response to the shrill voices of politicians who repeatedly call for more “boots on the ground” than a decision based on reality or strategy.

The fact is that our border is more secure than ever and safer than most communities across America. The number of illegal crossings at the border has now dropped to historic lows, with 80 percent fewer apprehensions (an indicator of the number of people trying to cross illegally) in the past decade. In addition, the federal government is spending more money than ever on border enforcement including surges in manpower, infrastructure and technology for border security.

Reducing the number of National Guard troops is a small step toward using our enforcement resources much more effectively. However, the real problem is that our border is as secure as it can be without comprehensive reforms to our outdated immigration system that provide legal channels through which immigrants can come to this country legally.”

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