New Mexico National Guard Deployed to Border
September 1, 2010 - 5:21 PMThe New Mexico National Guard has deployed 82 troops along the border with Mexico to increase surveillance.
National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Jamison Herrera said Wednesday the troops have been training side by side with Border Patrol agents for about two weeks, and began their mission this week to support the Border Patrol and other law enforcement agencies along southern edge of the state.
In May, President Barack Obama announced a plan to deploy 1,200 National Guard members to the international border in response to increasing concerns about border violence.
Gov. Bill Richardson said violence along the New Mexico-Mexico border is a major concern.
Guard members will not make arrests, but rather will do intelligence work and early entry identification, Herrera said.
"We're using some of the military tools that we have available for infrared to identify people and things moving across that border. We can alert the Border Patrol and other law enforcement," he said.
Some 72 of New Mexico's Guard members are working directly with the Border Patrol, while the other 10 are in support roles, Herrera said. The deployment is to last until June 30.
In Arizona, about 30 National Guard troops began a similar mission Monday, and waves of troops will be deployed every week until a total of 532 are on the border by the end of the month.
Arizona National Guard spokesman Lt. Valentine Castillo said everything has run smoothly this week.
"The mission is on track," he said.
Richardson's office said the latest deployment is in addition to nearly 120 Guard troops already doing counterdrug work in New Mexico along the border.
In 2005, then-President George W. Bush ordered 6,000 National Guard troops to New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and California to help the Border Patrol cut illegal immigration. Troops were deployed in observation posts along the border until Border Patrol ranks were beefed up.
Associated Press Writer Amanda Myers in Phoenix contributed to this report.
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