State Capitol News
Wed May 21, 2008
Governor balks at guard withdrawl
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – Governor Janet Napolitano is balking at putting state National Guard units along the international border to replace troops from across the nation who are being withdrawn. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.
The federal government had put 2,400 Guard soldiers in Southern
Arizona two years ago in a support role to free up Border Patrol
agents to go out and find illegal immigrants. Now the governor is
upset because they're going to be gone by July 15th. Homeland
Security spokeswoman Laura Keehner said that had been the plan
all along, with the Border Patrol right on schedule to have
18,000 agents by the end of the year. Napolitano does have the
option to deploy Arizona guard troops in their place. But the
governor does not like that idea.
(The key thing about the federal Operation Jump Start is it was
paid for by federal dollars. Since I believe the federal
government has not put enough resources on the border to begin
with, to put yet another burden on Arizona taxpayers would be a
hard thing to swallow.)
Napolitano also said it took longer than expected for the feds to
get a virtual fence of sensors and cameras operating. Keehner
said that's just wrong.
(I take issue with the virtual fence being delayed. We've
apprehended over 3,000 people just in the 28 miles in this
testing area since December.)
Keenher acknowledged the system was initially identifying cattle
and wildlife as illegal border crossers.
(That was a very temporary problem that was fixed long ago.)
For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.