Skip to comments.Arizona gov. ready to spend state money to put troops at border (or so she says in an election year)
Posted on 03/01/2006 10:09:15 PM PST by NormsRevenge
PHOENIX Gov. Janet Napolitano said Wednesday she is prepared to use state money to send National Guard troops to the Arizona-Mexico border to crack down on illegal immigration if the Pentagon declines to pick up the bill.
It was the first time the governor has said she would be willing to use state money. In December, Napolitano said her plan would be impossible without complete federal funding.
But Republicans have since charged that her position gave the Democratic governor an escape clause, allowing her to talk tough in an election year while not actually doing anything about the border problem.
Arizona is the nation's busiest illegal entry point, and the state feels the federal government is not doing enough to stop it. Napolitano has proposed expanding the National Guard's border presence from its current role in helping in anti-drug efforts to performing other duties to give federal agents more time to catch illegal border-crossers.
Proponents say the National Guard's assistance in federal immigration efforts could help reduce border-related crime and make it more difficult for the tens of thousands of people who try to cross into Arizona illegally each year.
Critics say the National Guard's lack of training in immigration law could lead to racial profiling and that stationing troops at the border could hurt the morale of those who may have already served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Public pressure is mounting for state politicians who face re-election races this year to confront illegal immigration, even though immigration has long been considered the sole province of the federal government.
Even though immigrants provide the economy with cheap labor, Arizona and other border states shoulder huge health care and education costs for illegal immigrants and their families.
The governor said the military has made no decision on her request. The costs of Napolitano's plan and the number of troops to be stationed at the border have never been specified. The troops would likely remain there for three to six months.
I am prepared to spend state money, but I think we need to get federal money first, Napolitano said Wednesday.
Arizona already has about 170 National Guard troops at the border assisting federal and state officers with communications, fence construction and anti-drug efforts.
Napolitano now wants an unspecified number of additional troops to work at crossing points, assist with cargo inspection and operate cameras and mobile observation points so they can report suspicious activity.
Republican critics questioned whether the Democratic governor is serious about the plan, because they say she gave herself a way to back out by asking the military to pick up the tab.
Lawmakers are considering a proposal to require Napolitano to send troops to the border and provide $10 million state money for the effort. Napolitano said the proposal, which has already cleared half of the Legislature, would intrude on her authority to command the Arizona National Guard.
Republican Sen. Ron Gould of Lake Havasu City said the governor is trying to paper over her weak record on immigration.
Suddenly, in this election year, she has become a border hawk, Gould said.
On the Net: Arizona Legislature: www.azleg.state.az.us
Talks cheap and election year promises are as worthless as little tommy dashle.
This lib needs to be voted out of office in November. We need to start fining every employer that hires an illegal.
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