Wednesday, August 18, 2010

National Guard troops deploy to border Wednesday

— California National Guard troops will take up their posts along the U.S.-Mexico border today, becoming the first to hit the ground in response to President Barack Obama’s directive to reinforce Border Patrol agents overwhelmed by drug smugglers and illegal immigrants.

They will be part of the first wave of California troops who will be deployed as they complete training. All 224 committed by the governor will be on the ground by Sept. 1, officials say.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to meet with some of the troops today and tour the border to mark official deployment.

In remarks prepared for the visit, Schwarzenegger will praise the troops and once again urge the president and Congress to set aside partisan differences to pass an immigration overhaul.

“These men and women will provide much-needed assistance to help secure our border, but it’s important to remember that this is only the beginning,” he says.

“We must find a permanent solution to our broken immigration system. We need the federal government to step up with even more manpower and funding and I will continue to push President Obama and Congress for action.”

He plans to laud not only the troops here — who volunteered for this duty — but the Guard in general.

“Our soldiers and airmen are true action heroes who respond to disasters at home and overseas,” according to his statement.

Brig. Gen. Mary Kight, who serves as adjutant general of the California National Guard, will join Schwarzenegger.

“The California National Guard is proud to be at the forefront of homeland security,” she says in remarks prepared for today. “Our soldiers and airmen bring a high level of civilian career expertise and military training to the mission that allows them to be a superb force multiplier to the Border Patrol.”

California’s troops will not be confined to the border. Some are likely to take up posts along routes used by smugglers of drugs and immigrants.

The troops will be armed, but are generally considered support personnel. They will call in U.S. Border Patrol agents when they spot suspicious activity...

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