The first of 532 National Guard troops are set to begin their mission in the southern Arizona desert August 30 under President Obama’s plan to beef up border security. The troops are armed, but may only use their weapons in self-defense
In addition to the the National Guard deployment, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced today that Predator Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) flights will begin out of Corpus Christi, Texas, beginning on Wednesday, Sept.1. With the deployment of an UAS in Texas, DHS unmanned aerial capabilities will now cover the Southwest Border—from the El Centro Sector in California all the way to the Gulf of Mexico in Texas—providing critical aerial surveillance assistance to personnel on the ground.
The new, border-wide use of the Predator aircraft, comes on the heels of the recently passed Southwest border security supplemental legislation, which will provide two additional UASs that will bolster these newly expanded operations.
The White house says these UAS efforts are just the latest steps in the historic approach—and unprecedented amount of resources – that the President and this Administration have directed to the southwest border since launching the Southwest Border Initiative in March 2009. Since then, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has doubled the number of personnel assigned to border enforcement security task forces; tripled the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers working along the U.S.-Mexico border; quadrupled deployments of border liaison officers; and begun screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments for illegal weapons, drugs, and cash.
In addition, the President has authorized the deployment of an additional 1,200 National Guard troops to the border to provide intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, and immediate support to counternarcotics enforcement while Customs and Border Protection recruits and trains additional officers and agents to serve on the border. The Administration is dedicating $600 million in new funding to enhance security technology at the border, share information and support with state, local, and tribal law enforcement, and increase federal law enforcement activities at the border. That effort will include the deployment of more agents, investigators, and prosecutors as part of a coordinated effort with states and cities to target illicit networks trafficking in people, drugs, illegal weapons, and money.