Obama Mulls Sending National Guard to Border

Some officials worry move will be seen as militarizing U.S.-Mexico border

By Britt Peterson
|  Wednesday, Jul 1, 2009  |  Updated 11:10 AM PDT
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Obama Mulls Sending National Guard to Border

Getty Images/David McNew

The White House may ask for 1,500 volunteers to take part in the program

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With drug-related violence growing along the Mexican border, the U.S. is considering deploying troops to the Southwest, according to a Department of Homeland Security official.

Senior officials say the Obama administration is developing plans to seek up to 1,500 National Guard volunteers to help combat the drug war along the Mexican border.

“You can’t fight this war with just one hand,” President Barack Obama has said. “You can’t have Mexico making an effort and the United States not making an effort.”

Some officials worry that the move will be seen as militarizing the region. Supporters however, are confident that the program would last no longer than a year and would build on an existing counter-drug operation, saying that the program will be largely federally funded and draw on National Guard volunteers from the four border states.

Paul Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, said that options for the new program have been drafted, but the plan still must be approved by key cabinet members as well as the president.

"We have been working very closely to build a set of options that would have the Department of Defense in a very limited way, for a limited period of time, serve in direct support for CBP," said Stockton, referring to Customs and Border Protection.
 

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