US to deploy troops on Mexico border

The US will start sending some 1,200 troops to its border with Mexico in August to help in monitoring and arresting illegal immigrants, officials say.

Press TV, 20 July 2010

The deployment is part of President Barack Obama’s border plan to reduce drug smuggling and human trafficking on the US-Mexican border.

Obama asked for $500 million in supplemental funds from the Congress in late May to deploy more troops to secure the almost 3,200-kilometer (2,000-mile) border.

The Army and Air National Guard troops “will provide direct support to federal law enforcement officers and agents working in high-risk areas to disrupt criminal organizations seeking to move people and goods illegally across the southwest border,” AFP quoted Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as saying on Monday.

Gen. Craig McKinley, commander of the National Guard, said that the troops will be trained in four border states, including California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, by September 1.

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon has expressed discontent with the decision.

Mexico does not object to US plans to station troops along the border between the two nations as long as the soldiers do not arrest Mexicans trying to get into the United States, President Felipe Calderon said.

“They have a commitment to uphold the law on the American side and not to use the National Guard for immigration purposes or to deal with immigration issues,” Calderon said.

The announcement came as a controversial new Arizona immigration law, which takes effect July 29, allows police to ask anyone they suspect of being in the state illegally about their immigration status.

The legislation is deemed racist, as it would allow law enforcement officers to single out individuals based on the individual’s appearance.

The US government has sued Arizona to halt implementation. It says only the federal government can handle immigration issues.

Tom Sullivan