Arizona Republican Dave Schweikert is proposing at the U.S. send thousands of National Guard troops to any of the four states bordering Mexico, to help slow the flood of illegal immigrants that has surged across the border so far this year.
Schweikert’s Southwest Border Protection Act is a reaction to the increase in unaccompanied children that have been apprehended after crossing into the United States. Border officials have said the need to detain and manage this flood of children is taking efforts away from regular border enforcement activities.
“This diversion is stretching the Customs and Border Patrol thin and causing a troubling impact on our national security,” Schweikert said Tuesday. “That is unacceptable.”
“The Southwest Border Protection Act of 2014 would assist in refocusing our border security programs and secure DHS and CBP’s focus on illegal smuggling of drugs, individuals, and other transnational criminal activities,” he added.
Under his bill, Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas could request National Guardsmen to help achieve “operational control” of the border. A request for help would require a minimum of 10,000 National Guardsmen to be deployed.
“At least 10,000 members of the national Guard shall be ordered to active duty and deployed under the authority of this section along the international border between the United States and Mexico,” the bill states.
The Guardsmen could only be withdraw at the request of the state that first asked for the assistance, or if the Department of Homeland Security certifies that operational control of the border has been achieved.
The Obama administration has said as many as 60,000 or more unaccompanied children may be caught this year, although some say the number could be closer to 90,000. That’s up from just 6,500 from a year years ago.
Many Republicans have blamed President Barack Obama for failing to fully enforce U.S. immigration laws, which they say has sent a signal to Central American countries that children will not be turned away if they try to enter the country.
Regardless of the cause, the flood of children trying to cross is likely to cost the country. Earlier this month, senators proposed a bill that would increase spending by $1 billion to manage the thousands of children that are being held near the border by U.S. officials.