TUCSON, Ariz. - About 225 Guardsmen will form the first wave of Operation Guardian. Governor Doug Ducey says that is the name for the plan to deploy National Guardsmen to supplement the Border Patrol.
Another 113 Guardsmen will follow Tuesday.
On their way to the border, Guardsmen will pass through a National Guard Base at Pinal Air Park just north of Marana.
The National Guard is officially a state militia that can be called into Federal service. In this case, Arizona National Guardsmen will stay under Governor Ducey’s command but the Federal government will cover the costs.
At a National Guard center in Phoenix, the Governor told the troops they’ll make Arizona and the country safer.
“Your support will free up the border agents to serve on the border allowing us to put more boots on the ground," Ducey said.
Guardsmen are expected to help with duties like surveillance to free more agents to find and arrest smugglers and people illegally crossing the border.
Critics question whether the Guardsmen are needed. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada says he can’t speak for other border sheriffs but he says a thousand agents operate in Santa Cruz County and that’s plenty.
"I don’t think it’s timely and here I don’t think it’s necessary but it’s just, you know the President trying to bully Congress to take care of a wall he wants and this is just another one of the projects he has," Estrada said.
Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier says he sees the border as a security and human rights issue. He supports the deployment but is concerned Guardsmen will militarize the border. He says he's pleased they will play support roles only.
The administration is talking about deploying two to four thousand Guardsmen in the border states. That would be larger than when President Obama deployed 1500 troops and smaller than President Bush’s deployment fo 6000.