524 Guard Soldiers Headed to Arizona-Mexico Border
June 28, 2010 - 6:29 PMFederal officials told Arizona's attorney general and a congresswoman on Monday that 524 of the 1,200 National Guard troops headed to the U.S. Mexican border will be deployed in the state by August or September.
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Attorney General Terry Goddard, both Democrats, met with Obama administration officials in Tucson along with dozens of law enforcement officials and community leaders. The federal officials included John Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland security.
Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the 524 troops are now being trained for deployment in August, and Goddard said two drone aircraft also will be used in Arizona. Goddard says the commitment is a first step.
Brennan, Goddard said, has the job of evaluating "the whole picture. He never said this is all. He said this is what we're going to do right now."
The federal officials, sent by President Barack Obama, were to meet later Monday with Gov. Jan Brewer in her office in Phoenix. The meeting resulted from Brewer's June 3 visit to the White House where she and Obama discussed border security and immigration. Brewer asked for specifics on how the plans apply to Arizona.
The president previously announced that he plans to send 1,200 troops to the border, and he asked Congress for $600 million to pay for 1,000 more Border Patrol agents, 160 new federal immigration officers and two unmanned aircraft.
Arizona in the U.S. state with the most illegal border-crossings.
Brewer had called on Obama to deploy the National Guard to help stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers across the border, and she reacted to Obama's initial announcement by saying 1,200 Guard personnel wouldn't be enough. She also urged Obama to send National Guard helicopters and surveillance drones to the border to help tight.
The meetings follow months of heated debate over illegal immigration sparked by the passage of a new Arizona law on April 23. The law generally requires police investigating another incident or crime to ask people about their immigration status if there's a "reasonable suspicion" they're in the country illegally.
The meetings were taking place as Arizona officials awaited word on a widely anticipated federal legal challenge to the measure. Obama has called the law "misguided." Brewer has said its enactment was necessary because of federal inaction on border enforcement.
Associated Press writer Bob Christie contributed.
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