New Jersey National Guard Spc. Luis Ataca had a bird’s-eye view of America’s latest war on illegal immigration. It didn’t look quite like he expected, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. For the past two weeks, the 28-year-old stood in a portable tower on the border in New Mexico for hours at a time, staring through a pair of binoculars powerful enough to make out a rabbit running through the open desert 2 miles away. From his post on a rocky outcropping, the soldier had an unobstructed view of the Mexican village of Palomas and a decrepit cattle fence that serves as the only barrier to entry into the United States. The one thing Ataca didn’t see — the one thing he expected to see — was illegal immigrants trying to make their way into America.
“It’s been pretty slow,” Ataca said. Ataca is part of Operation Jumpstart, a Bush administration initiative to put 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen on America’s border with Mexico for the next two years to augment the U.S. Border Patrol. The troops aren’t there to round up illegal border crossers and drug traffickers. That job is reserved for Border Patrol agents. Instead, most of the troops are posted in lookout positions designated by the Border Patrol. They are supposed to act as the eyes and ears of a law enforcement agency that does not have enough manpower to sit and watch the border. Nearly 30 states have contributed troops to Operation Jump Start.