(July 8, 2014) An unprecedented number of child immigrants illegally trying to cross the nation’s southern border have led some officials to call for more National Guard support in the area.
Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have been detained near the border of the United States and Mexico. Many of the children have come from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
At a July 3 field hearing of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Texas Governor Rick Perry said the state’s National Guard troops should be called in to help U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. The hearing took place in the Rio Grande Valley, where over 37,600 unaccompanied minors have been apprehended at the border between Oct. 1, 2013 and June 15, 2014. That’s a 178 percent increase for that section of the border from the same time frame in fiscal 2013.
“The rapid influx of illegal immigrants has strained border resources that were already insufficient to the task at hand,” Perry said.
Perry’s remarks are not the only time he’s expressed similar sentiments. In a letter last month to President Barack Obama, he asked for the administration to pay for 1,000 Guard troops to help.
And, he isn’t the only one calling for the Guard. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also wrote a letter to Obama last month where he called for an immediate deployment.
“The National Guard is uniquely qualified to respond to such humanitarian crises,” he said. “They are able to help deal with both the needs of these children and families as well as relieve the border patrol to focus on their primary duty of securing our border.”
In June 2006, large numbers of National Guard troops were deployed to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border. They helped with administrative support, engineering, entry identification and aviation but did not have a direct law-enforcement role. More than 30,000 Guardsmen participated in the two-year operation, coined Operation Jump Start.
Currently, just over 100 Guardsmen currently serve near the southwest border. The administration has not committed to additional troops, but Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has said 150 Border Patrol agents are headed to the area to help.
The White House announced Tuesday that Obama will also ask Congress for an additional $3.7 billion in emergency funding to help deal with the situation. The money would go towards caring for the minors, as well as improving security and speeding up the deportation process.