Border troops to be cut
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Monday, President Obama made a point of the fact that American troops will be out of Iraq for the holidays but that isn't the only place where the Commander in Chief is looking at a draw down.
Arizonans worried about border security pushed hard for the Obama administration to deploy more National Guard troops on the border. He did, and even kept them there longer than planned; but that might not last for much longer, at least not at the current troop strength.
President Obama sent 1200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border after pleas for help from border residents and border states.
Federal law forbids the military from day to day law enforcement.
The Guardsmen serve as observers and leave actual arrests to Border Patrol.
The original plan was to keep the 12 hundred troops deployed from August 2010 to August 2011. The administration extended the deployment.
Now the administration is planning to reduce the number of troops, shift them towards intelligence work, and keep them on the job longer---probably through the end of next year.
Visiting Tucson, Governor Brewer said, she does not want to see the Guard presence cut back.
KGUN9 reporter Craig Smith asked her: "Part of what the administration is saying is, well, the falling arrest rates, and tightening budgets suggest that maybe the role of the National Guard should change and that smaller numbers are a good idea. What do you think?"
Gov. Brewer: "And we appreciate what the Federal Government has done on our borders here in Southern Arizona but the fact of the matter is if you went out and spoke to the people that live on the border, the ranchers down there, or to the family of Brian Terry our Border patrol Agent that was murdered on the border, they're still facing all those kinds of issues down there with the drug cartels and violence and people coming across and terrorizing them."
Homeland Security says Border Patrol strength is up and arrests of illegal border crossers are at a 40 year low.
In a news conference Monday, Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin said it's still dangerous in remote border areas like the spot where Agent Terry died but CBP is focusing extra effort against bandit crews and it's bringing violence down.
Bersin said:"We are taking back this corridor and progress is quite obvious and apparent. We're determined that Brian Terry will not have died in vain and we believe we're making good on that committment."
It's not clear how many Guardsmen the Obama administration will cut from the deployment but the remaining ones may shift from the ground to the air, with more emphasis on surveillance with aircraft and unmanned drones.