Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bush scrapped 9,790 border Patrol Agents in 2005, now wants to replace them with US troops

Just in case there was even the slightest doubt in your mind that Bush’s upcoming announcement to put upwards of 10,000 National Guard troops on the southern border is anything other than a political sideshow to shore up his fading support from the right-wing of his party; this little blast from the past demonstrates just how committed to “border security” the boy-king really is:

Bush budget scraps 9,790 border patrol agents
President uses law's escape clause to drop funding for new homeland security force

Michael Hedges, Houston Chronicle
Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Washington -- The law signed by President Bush less than two months ago to add thousands of border patrol agents along the U.S.-Mexico border has crashed into the reality of Bush's austere federal budget proposal, officials said Tuesday.

Officially approved by Bush on Dec. 17 after extensive bickering in Congress, the National Intelligence Reform Act included the requirement to add 10,000 border patrol agents in the five years beginning with 2006. Roughly 80 percent of the agents were to patrol the southern U.S. border from Texas to California, along which thousands of people cross into the United States illegally every year.

But Bush's proposed 2006 budget, revealed Monday, funds only 210 new border agents.

The shrunken increase reflects the lack of money for an army of border guards and the capacity to train them, officials said.

Retired Adm. James Loy, acting head of the Department of Homeland Security until nominee Michael Chertoff takes over, said funding only 210 new agents was a "recognition that we need to balance those things as we go on down the road with other priorities."

The White House referred questions about the border agents to the Homeland Security Department.


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Having cut nearly 10,000 Border Patrol Agents from the budget last year, to now replace them with a like number of National Guardsmen this year can only be seen for what it is. An attempt to throw the right wing of the party a bone before the midterms, so they can return to their districts, heads held high, and claim some semblance of victory. At the same time Bush is hoping that by helping them, he can shore up his fading support among conservatives.

With the Senate poised to pass comprehensive reform, and the majority of the American people supporting it, Bush and the power-brokers on the Hill know that without some concessions, they face an outright rebellion from a right-wing that has gambled the entire pot on a “get tough” stance on immigration reform.

They are hoping against hope that this move will not only placate the Tancredo, Sensenbrenner, Hayworth wing of the party, but more importantly the constituency they have whipped into an anti-immigrant frenzy over the last year.

Whether the move works or not is to be seen, but what is known is that the plan to put the Guard on the border is not so much about “securing the border” as it is about a trying to secure re-election for scores of Republican Congressmen and Senators.


elRanchero said...

Let's do the math...

"Funding for the Border Patrol in 2006 includes $37 million for 210 additional Border Patrol agents..." (The Office of Manangement and Budget) That's $176,190.48 per border patrol agent or $482.71 a day. I assume that includes recruiting and training costs.

The Arizona Daily Star puts the cost of National Guard troops at $320 a day per soldier. Thats a savings of almost $163 a day! The National Guard is already hired and trained (paid for by the states).

Those of you who think it's just a ploy for votes, you're wrong! Our fiscally conservative President is saving the Federal Government $593 million dollars.

Texan said...

Saving the government $163 a day? That's a very shortsighted analysis. A national guard soldier is someone who has been pulled away from his civilian job. A new border patrol agent is someone with a new job.

Also, the proposed role of the national guard as described by the White House is allegedly not to patrol the border but instead they will provide logistics, construction, and other "services" to the real border patrol agents.

Sounds very political to me. A uniformed presence of the National Guard in the media, to appease the American public, while being relegated to a bench role on the actual border to appease President Fox... I can guess that most National Guardsmen don't want to be pulled away from their lives for one year or more merely for political grandstanding.

And I wonder, why do we give a rat's a-- what President Fox thinks? Fox wants to grow his nation's 2nd biggest industry, remittances sent to Mexico by his citizens who acquire money in USA, while his own government forces continue shooting, robbing, and molesting Central American migrants who cross into Mexico.

I believe we should put serious pressure on Fox to start collecting income tax from the wealthy elite in Mexico and use the funds to build roads, schools with textbooks, communications, and other infrastructure that could grow Mexico itself into a place that the average Jose would actually want to live and raise his kids in. Instead, the wealth of the 10th largest world economy is hoarded by the elite and occasionally used to provide campaign funds for politicians who support the status quo.

In short, the root causes of mass migration need to be addressed. Political grandstanding doesn't offer a solution. (More discussion here)