National Guard border deployment begins Aug. 1

Senior Homeland Security officials said on Monday that on Aug. 1 they will begin deploying 1,200 members of the National Guard to boost security along the Southwest border. Nearly half that number -- 524 -- will be deployed to Arizona, where illegal immigration and smuggling are most prevalent and have become a major political issue for the Obama administration.

"These troops will provide direct support to federal law enforcement officers and agents working in high-risk areas to disrupt criminal organizations seeking to move people and goods illegally across the Southwest border," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

California and Texas will receive 224 and 250 troops, respectively, and New Mexico will get 72. An additional 130 guardsmen will serve in command-and-control positions. DHS first requested the troops in May.

Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton joined National Guard Bureau Chief Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley at the Pentagon on Monday to discuss the deployment plan.

The deployment is scheduled to last for one year, during which time DHS will hire an additional 1,000 Border Patrol agents and personnel to work at ports of entry.

"The efforts of the National Guard will be to support the personnel that DHS has increased and placed on the Southwest border since 2009," said Bersin. In addition to the temporary influx of guardsmen, CBP will send about 300 more agents, more mobile surveillance systems, and six additional aircraft to the border, he said.

The National Guardsmen will help DHS personnel identify illegal border crossers and drug and arms smugglers as well as support intelligence operations, Bersin said.

Last year, ICE agents removed 387,000 people in the United States illegally, 136,000 of whom were criminals, Morton said. Like CBP, the immigration enforcement agency is focusing more of its efforts on the Southwest border. In June, ICE sent an additional 300 special agents, removal officers and intelligence analysts to the four border states and increased its presence in Mexico.

"We're also adding 68 National Guardsmen who will serve as intelligence analysts and will help us focus on our cross-border smuggling investigations," Morton said.

In addition, ICE plans to open a new investigative office in Arizona and send a jump team of specially trained agents to Douglas, Ariz., to help with investigations.

McKinley said the deployment would not hinder National Guard support to military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, where 54,000 guardsmen currently serve. The border states collectively have about 50,000 National Guard personnel, he said, and supplying 1,200 personnel for the border security mission would have no negative impact on other missions.

"I rely on the adjutants general and the governors, who advise Defense Secretary [Robert] Gates and Secretary Napolitano, to tell me where the need is and right now I cannot see a case where we will be overextending the National Guard in this effort," McKinley said.

The troops will be taking the lead from law enforcement personnel, McKinley said. While they will be armed, they will use force only in self defense.

"They will be deployed only on the United States side of the border following the rules of engagement as set forth by the lead agencies here," McKinley said. "We have done this before and it is common practice for all soldiers and airmen to only take that action to extricate themselves from the situation and not be provocative."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.