Saturday, March 10, 2007

Arizona Taking New Steps to Secure its Border with Mexico When President Bush made that announcement 10 months ago, he limited the role of National Guard to surveillance, building roads and fences and other support duties. Customs and border protection says it has helped, because apprehensions of illegal aliens are down by 30 percent since October. One consequence of increased manpower at the border has been a sharp increase in violence with heavily armed smugglers hijacking drug loads and human cargo from each other. Border Patrol and local law enforcement are often outgunned, while the National Guard is prohibited from responding. State Rep. Warde Nichols (R) said: Right now, unfortunately, the drug smugglers, the human smugglers and all those people coming across the border right now illegally, they know what the National Guard ise going to do. They know they are not going to defend their positions, that they are going to basically fall back to a safe position and call the Border Patrol. We could be so much more effective if these guys could actually stand and engage these guys and begin to stop them." Nichols' bill now moves to the Arizona State Senate where passage appears likely and it would then it would be up to Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano to deploy the Arizona Guard to the border. She has resisted many previous state border security efforts. But lawmakers point out she has already declared a state of emergency because of illegal immigration in Arizona, so they are hoping she'll cooperate this time.