The idea that immigration reform cannot happen without improved border security is a recurring theme of the congressional debate, says National Public Radio. Security was what President Bush had in mind last May when he started Operation Jump Start – his plan to send up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Bush calls the operation a success, but troops are being pulled off the border, and some governors fear that border security will be threatened.
The number of crossers apprehended by the Border Patrol since last October is down by about one-third, while drug seizures are up. Drug violence in Mexico has been worsening, as cartels fight for control. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson have asked Bush to reconsider. The U.S. has about 13,500 Border Patrol agents – a 20 percent increase over last year. There has been a surge in drug-related violence across the Arizona-Mexico border. Napolitano asked Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Border Patrol Chief David Aguilar if they might remove troops from somewhere else first.