50,000 troops sought at borders

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Georgia Rep. Charlie Norwood, a critic of President Bush’s efforts to secure U.S. borders, wants the administration to deploy 50,000 troops to guard America’s southern and northern borders.

“For those who say that deploying tens of thousands of soldiers to secure our 7,000 total miles of border is unrealistic, please explain our posting 37,000 troops for 50 years to secure 155 miles of South Korea’s border,” Mr. Norwood said.

Mr. Norwood, a Republican who unsuccessfully has sought the passage of legislation to give 600,000 state, local and tribal police officers authority to enforce federal immigration law, said Mr. Bush’s deployment in May of 6,000 National Guard troops on the southwestern border is a “weak response” to the flood of illegal aliens.

The congressman said the Minuteman Project’s civilian border patrols proved that illegal aliens can be kept out with an adequate show of manpower.

“The American people want the borders secured,” Mr. Norwood said, deriding efforts by the administration and lawmakers to grant worker status, instead, to millions of illegals who are in the United States.

“They want existing laws vigorously enforced against criminal aliens, illegal immigrants and their employers,” he said. “Then they are willing to discuss what to do about illegal aliens already in the country.”

Mr. Norwood’s staff helped in a House investigation last year that found the government could sustain the Minuteman Project’s success by deploying 36,000 to 48,000 National Guard troops or state militia on the border to work with the U.S. Border Patrol. He said Mr. Bush “could make it happen” with an executive order.

“A 50,000-man call-up is 20,000 less than he called up for [Hurricane] Katrina last year, so it is a very realistic number,” he said, adding that it would take a week to get the troops on the line.

Mr. Norwood said the deployment would cost $2.5 billion a year, less than 4 percent of the minimum $70 billion a year the nation spends for the health care, education and incarceration costs of illegal aliens.

The six-term congressman said that since the House investigation, former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert C. Bonner and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger have estimated the number of auxiliary troops necessary at 50,000. He said that Texas Gov. Rick Perry put the number at 60,000 and that the Heritage Foundation called for a force of at least 48,000.

“President Bush responded … by ordering 6,000 National Guard to the southern border,” he said. “The size of the deployment is a fraction of what’s necessary to do the job right. It simply will take that many soldiers posted on the 2,000-mile border with Mexico to stop this crisis.”

Mr. Norwood said that if Mr. Bush and others think the country cannot sustain a deployment of 50,000 National Guard troops, he should call for volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Naval Militia, state defense forces and reserve forces.

“As soon as we can double the current size of our Border Patrol, and install new technology and infrastructure, we can gradually turn border security back over to the Border Patrol alone,” he said.

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