Obama to send National Guard to Mexican border; Fox fuels terror scare

The New York Times in a front-page story May 26 said that President Barack Obama will send up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the Southwest border and seek increased spending on enforcement there to combat drug smuggling. The decision was disclosed after Obama met the previous day with Republican senators to discuss the issue.

“The White House is doing the right thing,” said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in a statement announcing the decision. “Arizonans know that more boots on the ground means a safer and more secure border. Washington heard our message.” The White House left the announcement to Giffords, but later confirmed it to the Times.

Terry Goddard, the Arizona attorney general and a Democrat running for governor, released a statement saying he had secured the administration’s commitment for $500 million for the National Guard mobilization and border security

Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican whose opponent in a coming primary has relentlessly criticized him on immigration, said he welcomed Obama’s move but that it was “simply not enough.”

Fox News wasted no time in loaning fuel to the Republican fire, asserting immediately after the announcement that the Homeland Security Department “is alerting Texas authorities to be on the lookout for a suspected member of the Somalia-based Al Shabaab terrorist group who might be attempting to travel to the US through Mexico.” Fox sited an unnamed “security expert who has seen the memo.”

The warning apparently follows an indictment unsealed this month in federal court that accuses a Somali man in Texas of running a “large-scale smuggling enterprise” responsible for bringing hundreds of Somalis from Brazil through South America and eventually across the Mexican border. Many of the “illegal immigrants,” who court records say were given fake IDs, are alleged to have ties to al-Barakat and al-Ittihad al-Islami, insurgent organizations that have now merged with al-Shabaab, Somalia‘s main rebel militia.

See our last posts on the politics of immigration, Mexico’s narco wars and the struggle for the border.

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  1. Obama emulates Bush on border
    If this sounds familiar, it should. From the San Diego Union-Tribune, May 26:

    The troops will work in a support role, providing assistance to border agents with surveillance, reconnaissance, intelligence analysis and counternarcotics operations while U.S. Customs and Border Protection recruits and trains additional staff members.

    That was essentially the role of about 6,000 National Guard troops deployed by the Bush administration in May 2006, about 550 of whom assisted the Border Patrol in the San Diego sector with surveillance, border-fence projects and other non-law-enforcement support. The two-year program, dubbed Operation Jumpstart, also was intended to strengthen border security while additional agents were hired.