Monday, April 16, 2007

Rhetoric and Reality

While launching its public relations offensive for a new bill on "comprehensive immigration reform" (read: amnesty), the Bush administration has spent the last week or so talking tough about law enforcement on the border and praising the job that National Guard troops, deployed to the border last year, have done to deter illegal border crossings. But even as the words slither out of his mouth the reality of President Bush's management of border security looks starkly different.

... As planning begins to reduce the number of National Guard troops along the border with Mexico, less than 1,000 of 6,000 new U.S. Border Patrol agents that the Bush administration wants in place by the end of next year have been hired.

As of March 17, the Border Patrol has only been able to hire and train 593 new agents or 9 percent of the administration's goal, according to Javier Rios, a Border Patrol spokesman in Washington.

Screening new agents and a lengthy training process have resulted in the relatively small number of new hires. By the end of 2008, the administration wants a Border Patrol force of about 18,000 agents, up from the 12,000 in place when the president ordered the troops to the border last June.

Guard commanders in California and other states assigned to the border duty are starting to put together plans to reduce the troop presence.

There were 1,389 members of the California Guard's air and ground units on the border last week, a number that probably will fall to between 1,000 and 1,100 by the fall, said Lt. Col. Jon Siepmann, a Guard spokesman in Sacramento.

'This has always been a temporary mission,' he said, adding that the assignment officially ends in December 2008. 'Our end strength (later this year) will be based on what the Border Patrol says it needs.'

The positioning of National Guard soldiers on the border was a shameless stunt perpertated by an administration that desperately wants to increase the number of aliens in the U.S., not decrease it. Rarely has an American administration lied so openly, so brazenly and so consistently about its intentions. Of course, this is the same administration that gave us the Iraq debacle. So it should hardly be a surprise.


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