The Obama administration will deploy 1,200 National Guard troops and request an extra $500 million to secure the Mexican border, a move dismissed by Republicans as insufficient to win their cooperation on an overhaul of the nation’s immigration system, reports the Washington Post. By reinforcing the 340 Guard members already monitoring border crossings and analyzing intelligence, the initiative echoes 2006’s Operation Jump Start, in which President George W. Bush devoted 6,000 guardsmen to a two-year commitment in support of the Border Patrol.
Then, as now, the troop deployment was fueled by heightened concerns about lawlessness — then it was illegal immigration, now it is drug traffickers — as well as political maneuvering to lay the groundwork for an effort to change immigration policy. The issue remains bitterly contentious, with increasing pressure on Obama and lawmakers from both Latino supporters and conservative activists. The March 27 killing of Robert Krentz, a prominent Arizona rancher who had reported drug-smuggling activity on his land, has galvanized political anger toward illegal immigration in that state, although the identity of Krentz’s assailant remains under investigation. In Mexico, more than 22,700 people have died in drug-related violence since the battle with cartels was joined in 2006.