The bill is different from current legislation in that it requires the federal government to send 10,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border upon a U.S. governor's request instead of leaving the deployment to the president's discretion. It also allows the troops to serve under the command of that governor, something Poe calls a "more realistic approach." The bill allows for aviation support and authorizes the these troops to, among other things, conduct patrols of the border.
In April of this year, Poe joined with other elected officials in calling for more National Guard troops along the southwest border, which led to the president sending 1200 more troops. However, Poe said the troops ended up doing more surveillance work and playing a supporting role away from the border. Congress also passed a $600 million border security bill back in September, which Poe approved, but he said that legislation focused more on resources and training for Border Patrol agents, which can take months.
"It is more proactive in that it puts people -- boots on the ground -- on the border," Poe said of his new legislation.
When asked about what role Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano should be playing and what help she has been, Poe said he doesn't see the urgency coming out of the federal beaucracy that he thinks needs to be there. Napolitano, who this morning on Fox News touted her resume as a former prosecutor and governor of a southwest border state (Arizona), said in that same television interview that she thinks more can be done on border security (better enforcement tools, better tracking of illegal immigrants that manage to enter the country) but that there are already unprecedented resources on the southwest border.
Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has asked for more troops, but Poe said he perceives Napolitano's response as being that Perry has already gotten all the help he's going to get.
Poe's bill says the troops will remain on the border until the Homeland Security secretary certifies the federal government has "maintained operational control of the border."
Poe isn't expecting that to happen overnight, and he said the bill should be able to be paid for by relocating existing funds. He suggested looking at military defense funds and how much foreign aid is being given to foreign countries that can be used instead to secure the U.S. border.
"This is a crisis situation that has been this way and continues to get worse," he said.
Poe also said that everyone should continue to think of new ways to improve border security. One proposal he likes is to have all branches of the military reserves serve their scheduled and already funded two weeks of active duty along the border.
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