- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 1, 2006

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger agreed yesterday to send the California National Guard to the Mexican border, ending a 17-day standoff with the Bush administration, a Schwarzenegger spokesman said.

The two sides had been at odds over whether California guardsmen would join the effort to bolster the Border Patrol and who would pay for it.

They reached an agreement under which California will contribute about 1,000 guardsmen for border duty and the federal government will pick up the full cost, said Adam Mendelsohn, a spokesman for Mr. Schwarzenegger.

However, in a separate act that was not part of the agreement with the federal government, Mr. Schwarzenegger will sign an executive order that ends the California National Guard’s participation on Dec. 31, 2008, state officials said.

“This allows us to participate in the plan to secure the nation’s border while also addressing the concerns the governor had raised,” Mr. Mendelsohn said.

Mr. Schwarzenegger intends for the mission to be carried out mostly by troops who volunteer for six- to 12-month assignments. The Bush plan called for sending guardsmen on border duty instead of their annual two- and three-week training exercises.

President Bush has proposed sending a total of 6,000 National Guardsmen to the U.S. border with Mexico. The overall cost of the multiyear deployment has been put at more than $1 billion.

In California, National Guard officials have said the mobilization could begin immediately after Mr. Schwarzenegger signs the document.

A planning force could reach the border within days, but substantial troop deployments would not happen until mid-July, Guard officials said Wednesday in testimony before the state Senate. The first troops in Arizona were scheduled to reach the border yesterday.

The agreement Mr. Schwarzenegger will sign is a memorandum of understanding between the federal government and the governors of the four Southern border states. It serves as a federal promise to repay the cost of the deployment, although Congress has not appropriated the money.

It also establishes rules of engagement prohibiting guardsmen from handling detainees, but allowing them to carry guns. The rules are similar to those the California National Guard follows when deploying to a riot, officials said.

The document also contains a provision allowing the border governors to decline to participate in any part of the mission they deem inappropriate.

Mr. Schwarzenegger’s decision ended an awkward period for the Republican governor. He held out longer than Democratic governors in Arizona and New Mexico before saying he would send troops.

He also risked alienating voters in a state that has backed tough approaches on immigration, although his reluctance to send troops had been seen as popular among Hispanics.


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