State Capitol News
1:42 am
Thu March 13, 2008

Governor wants Guard to stay on border

Phoenix, AZ – Governor Janet Napolitano wants federal officials to delay the
pullout of National Guard troops from the border. Arizona Public
Radio's Howard Fischer reports.


There were 6,000 guard soldiers put on the border two years ago -
- 2,400 in Arizona -- to do clerical, construction and
surveillance jobs to free up Border Patrol officers to get out
into the field. Half are gone, the rest are supposed to go away
by mid July. But Napolitano, in a letter to Homeland Security
chief Michael Chertoff, said the virtual fence of sensors and
cameras being built in Southern Arizona, known as Project 28, has
not lived up to expectations. She said the soldiers should stay
while the problems are fixed. But Chertoff's press aide Russ
Knocke said the problems are nowhere near as serious as
suggested.

(We've been there. We've seen it work with our own eyes. They've
apprehended, they being the Border Patrol, well over 2,000
aliens. I think it's upwards of 2,400 aliens as a result of the
P-28 system.)

Knocke also said the schedule to end what has been called
Operation Jump Start is unrelated to the fence. He said the
soldiers were always intended to be a temporary measure, there
solely to help out until more Border Patrol officers were hired.
Knocke said there already are 15,000 on board -- from fewer than
12,000 when the process began -- with the agency on track to have
18,000 hired by the end of the year.

For Arizona Public Radio, this is Howard Fischer.