PHOENIX -- Gov. Janet Napolitano on Wednesday ordered more National Guardsmen posted at the Mexican border to help stop illegal immigrants and curb related crimes.
National Guard troops have worked at the border since 1988, but Napolitano signed an order authorizing commanders to station an unspecified number of additional soldiers there to help federal agents.
Once the funding is approved, the troops will monitor crossing points, assist with cargo inspection and operate surveillance cameras, according to the order.
"They are not there to militarize the border," the governor said. "We are not at war with Mexico."
About 170 National Guardsmen are already posted at the nation's busiest illegal entry point, where they assist with communications, fence construction and anti-drug efforts.
Napolitano did not say how many additional troops would be stationed at the border and referred questions to the National Guard. Guard spokesman Maj. Paul Aguirre said the number of troops would not be known until funding for the plan is approved.
The governor declared an immigration emergency last summer in Arizona's four border counties, citing security shortcomings by the federal government.
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The continuing trend towards militarization of our southern border shows little likelihood of slowing down. It appears that rather than addressing the root causes of increased unauthorized migration or looking for solutions that remove the barriers to legal immigration, local and state officials choose to continue to follow the failed policies of the past. Believing that stricter enforcement and tightening of border security will somehow stem the tide of migration. They fail to recognize the fact that with each new barrier put in place they only force the patterns of migration to shift further out into the desert. No restrictive efforts thus far have lowered the number of migrants entering the nation, the numbers grow yearly. The walls, barriers, increased border patrols and military pressence have only increased the number of migrant deaths as they are forced further out into the desert.
Governor Napolitano would be better served, working with her fellow state and federal leaders to work on a comprehensive immigration policy that recognizes the need for immigration and provides a way to make it safe and legal. But that would require doing the tough work of real reform ... and that doesn't make the same kind of political splash as a photo-op on the border surrounded by guardsmen does.