- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2011

President Obama will keep the National Guard on the U.S.-Mexico border past their current June deadline, agreeing to the demand by a number of border lawmakers who say having the military there deters illegal activity.

Briefing reporters ahead of a major immigration speech by the president on Tuesday, a senior administration official said they will find the money to extend the deployment.

“We intend to, by reprogramming, continue the National Guard at the border at the current force level. We’re working on the way to pay for that now,” said the top official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to preview the president’s speech.

The official said keeping the guard deployed will give them breathing space to get more U.S. Border Patrol agents trained and deployed, as Congress and the president directed in a bill last year.

Border lawmakers from both parties have called on the administration to take this step.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, told The Washington Times last month that the border isn’t secure enough yet to remove the troops, and she said she would even like to see an increase.

“I think the National Guard should be there until everything is resolved and we have a secure border, which means probably having the National Guard down there, you know, and probably more than what he has put down there,” Mrs. Brewer said.

Mr. Obama last year announced he was sending up to 1,200 troops to the border to help with logistical support and intelligence operations. The troops are not supposed to be actively enforcing immigration laws.

The president will be in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday to visit the border and deliver a speech calling for action in Congress on a broad immigration bill that includes a path to citizenship for most illegal immigrants.