Last year, the Obama administration decided to send 1200 National Guard troops to the border, well short of the total numbers several elected officials said were needed. The assignment was temporary, with reports circulating that troops could begin withdrawing in most states as early as February 2011.
Although Texas GOP Rep. Ted Poe says he hasn't heard anything different regarding the February 2011 troop withdrawal, Matt Chandler, a Homeland Security spokesman, said National Guard support remains in place on the border.
"National Guard support along the Southwest border remains in place," Chandler told Townhall.com. "Since their deployment last summer, the National Guard has assisted U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the seizure of more than 14,000 pounds of drugs and the identification of illegal border crossers, leading to the apprehension of more than 7,000 illegal aliens by CBP.”
Though news that the National Guard is not being withdrawn this February is positive, there still seems to be a troubling short-term memory on the subject coming out of the White HOuse, particularly in light of a GAO report released in February showing that less than half of the United States southwestern border is under "operational control."
Both Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Poe have made several past overtures to the White House and administration on the issue. Poe sent letters to the president and, following the deployment of only 1200 troops, introduced legislation, yet still feels the issue hasn't been fully addressed. Perry also made requests asking for 1,000 National Guard troops along the border. One request came in 2009, and another came after the National Guard troops deployed to Texas last summer as part of the 1200 totaled only 286.
Both said in separate interviews that they had no idea what else needs to happen to get the president to respond adequately to the issue. Meanwhile, terrorists are being smuggled across the southern border. Recently, a U.S. ICE agent was shot and killed by the drug cartels. Juarez, on the Mexican border, has had more civilians killed than Afghanistan had last year.
"I don't know how to get the attention of the president," Poe told Townhall.com in February. "We keep contacting DHS and [the] administration."
Perry had a similar response.
"I don't know what it's going to take to get the attention of the administration," Perry said Monday at a press conference, adding he hoped the cost was not more American lives.
To change the landscape, Poe sees the need for national awareness, not just from the border states, that the situation on the border is unacceptable.
Even with his history of pushing for stronger border security, Poe said he was surprised by the report's finding that the United States controls less than half of its own border and speculated about the remaining 56 percent.
"Who is it under the control of? Nobody" Poe said.