The Obama Administration is pulling back on border security. According to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the National Guard isn't scheduled to leave the Arizona-Mexico border at the end of June, however, Guard officials are saying they plan to leave the area within days due lack of orders to stay and carry out duties past June 30. Remember, Governor Jan Brewer requested twice as many National Guard troops be deployed the border and only half her request was granted.
The assessment at the National Guard Bureau in Washington: "We are on a glide path to end the mission," spokesman Jon Anderson said.
The moves come a week after the Department of Homeland Security publicly confirmed it wants to keep the soldiers there through the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30.
But at this point, that remains little more than a proposal, as the agency has not yet received the necessary congressional approval to shift funds to pay the tab. Homeland security officials estimate it costs about $10 million a month to keep the 1,200 soldiers in place.
Janet Napolitano, the homeland security chief, has boasted of the success of the yearlong program. Her agency released statistics saying the soldiers have assisted Customs and Border Protection with seizing more than 14,000 pounds of drugs as well as providing information leading to the apprehension of more than 7,000 people trying to cross the border illegally.
But the pronouncement that the Obama administration wants the soldiers to stay, at least for three more months, also has political implications.
It comes as the president, in pronouncing the border more secure than ever, is pushing Congress to enact what he calls comprehensive immigration reform. That includes not only revamping how people can come to work legally in this country but also finding a way to legitimize the status of about 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.
At the same time, the administration is facing calls by some, including Arizona's two Republican senators, to immediately put 3,000 Guard soldiers just along Arizona's international border. The current one-year deployment involves only 560 troops.
Castillo said absent specific orders from Washington, the Arizona National Guard cannot keep soldiers in place on the chance the mission will be extended. It is logistically impossible to keep all the troops deployed while awaiting word, and wrapping things up by June 30 takes time.
Could this be the Obama Administration ramping up for 2012 in an effort to appease pro-amnesty, openborder voters? As Cochise Country Sheriff Larry Dever told me, the rufusal to secure the border is purely political.