The Obama administration said Tuesday it would send 1,200 National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border and spend more law enforcement money there to combat drug smuggling. The troops will not be used on the front-line, but will provide support services to the already beefed-up border law enforcement apparatus.
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) last week called on Obama to send National Guard helicopters from neighboring states to Arizona. She didn't get the choppers, but she did get some attention, and now she will get some National Guardsman.
Although Brewer and other conservatives -- and some liberals -- are screaming to high heaven about the need for more border enforcement, the need for it isn't absolutely clear. In Arizona, the crime rate is down, there are signs that immigrants are leaving, and despite wildly exaggerated claims, Mexican drug cartels are generally very good at keeping their spectacular violence on the other side of the border.
The Obama National Guard deployment is a faint echo of President Bush the Junior's two-year deployment of 6,000 National Guard troops to the border beginning in 2006. Those troops were credited with helping in the arrest of more than 160,000 undocumented immigrants, the seizure of $69,000 in cash, and 305,000 pounds of drugs.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, fending off a challenge from a rightist congressman, said that 1,200 troops wasn't enough. In a Senate maneuver, he tried to get funding for 6,000 troops Thursday, but was rebuffed.