Rep. Martha McSally: National Guard on border idea isn’t new

Apr 6, 2018, 4:42 PM | Updated: 7:46 pm
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)....
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin).
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
LISTEN: Representative Martha McSally

PHOENIX — U.S. Rep. Martha McSally cited precedent to President Donald Trump’s proclamation to send National Guard troops to the southern border in an interview on KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos.

Both of Trump’s predecessors did the same.

“This is not the first time it’s been done,” McSally said. “There is an appropriate role for our national guard to be supporting civil authorities … especially given the slow-rolling and obstructionism that we’ve seen.”

In August 2006, then-president George W. Bush sent 6,000 troops as part of Operation Jump Start, a $1.2 billion program to limit the flow of drugs. The following May, the number of troops was cut to 3,000. It ended the next year.

The Posse Comitatus Act prevents the “direct military involvment” in law enforcement and making arrests. Because of this, forces focused on surveillance and installing fences and barriers while reporting activity to federal agents.

According to a statement from the Department of Defense, Trump’s plan seems to follow the same outlines: efforts will include “aviation, engineer, surveillance, communications, vehicle maintenance and logistics support.

“These National guard members will act in support of Boarder Patrol agents.”

Over the two years troops were on the border for Operation Jump Star, more than 176,000 undocumented immigrants were apprehended and more than 316,000 pounds of marijuana and 5,000 pounds of cocaine were seized, according to the Pentagon.

In 2010, then-president Barack Obama ordered its successor program, Operation Phalanx, in part to address a Customs and Border Protection staffing shortage, according to the Washington Post.

In December 2011, the Washington Post reported the program had cost $160 million to that point. More than 25,000 people on the border had been apprehended, a cost of more than $6,000 per person.

Operation Phalanx began to focus on aerial surveillance that year, according to the Washington Post.

Now, Trump said he plans to send 2,000 to 4,000 troops, but the time frame and cost is unclear.

“This is an appropriate step to make in order to deal with the security issues and the uptick in traffic while we’re continuing to work to secure the border through the the other ways,” McSally said.

There has been a huge uptick in border apprehensions this February and March compared to the same time frame last year.

In February 2017, about 23,500 people were apprehended, by far the lowest over at least four years, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This February, about 36,700 people were stopped, on par with the average since 2013.

This March, more than 50,000 people were apprehended at the border, which is a 203 percent increase over March 2016.

“Things are just taking too long in Washington D.C.,” McSally said. “The president is impatient, and so am I.”

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Rep. Martha McSally: National Guard on border idea isn’t new