U.S. National Guard forces will begin deploying along the U.S. border with Mexico in August and will be fully trained and deployed by the end of the month, government officials said.
About 1,200 Army and Air National Guard troops will be in place for a year to assist the Border Patrol in monitoring and capturing illegal immigrants crossing the border into the United States. They will serve as a "gap-filler" while the Customs and Border Patrol agency hires additional staff to fill the demand in protection along the almost 2,000-mile-long southern border with Mexico.
The troops, from the four border states, will be fully trained and in place in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas by September 1, according to Gen. Craig McKinley, commander of the National Guard. The Guard troops will not be involved in law enforcement activities such as arrests of illegal immigrants, but will assist the Border Patrol in looking for the illegal border crossers and smugglers as well as in intelligence gathering. The airmen and soldiers will be armed, but they will be limited by rules of engagement that allow them to shoot only to defend themselves.
The deployment is part of President Barack Obama's border plan announced in late May, when he also requested $500 million in supplemental funds to try to reduce the number of immigrants and smugglers crossing the border daily. Guard troops will be doled out along the border where the needs are the greatest, according to federal officials.
Arizona will receive most of the forces with 524 troops, while Texas will get 250, California 224, and New Mexico just 72. Additional troops will perform administrative work.