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Pro: National Guard will add extra eyes on border, discourage illegal entry

By Jessica Priest
Aug. 10, 2014 at 6 p.m.


by the numbers

The Border Patrol seized in 2013 more than 2.4 million pounds of marijuana and 3,910 pounds of cocaine on the Southwestern border.

There were also 461 assaults reported during that time, according to the agency.

The U.S. needs a show of force along its southwestern border, said Goliad resident Luis Hernandez.

That's why a National Guard deployment there is necessary.

While National Guardsmen cannot detain or arrest people suspected of entering the country illegally, they will be extra eyes and discourage others from making the trip.

Hernandez equated their presence to how the U.S. tricked Adolf Hitler in World War II with inflatable tanks and rubber airplanes.

The 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, also known as the Ghost Army, began staging battlefields to confuse the enemy in Normandy after D-Day, according to the Atlantic.

The National Guard is also more disciplined than Minutemen, who some called racist, said DeWitt County Sheriff Jode Zavesky.

Minutemen don't have the power to arrest or detain people because they are civilians who use all-terrain vehicles and night vision goggles to spot suspicious activity along the border.

Local and state law enforcement also don't have the power to arrest those along the border. That's because enforcing immigration laws falls on federal agencies, such as the Border Patrol.

Hernandez worried the rush of children could make America appear lax to its enemies.

"If a kid could cross the border with whatever is in his backpack, what's to stop a member of the Taliban from doing the same thing, but with a bomb?" he asked.

Congressman Blake Farenthold, who represents the 27th District, said the flood of children overwhelming the Border Patrol agents might also be a diversion.

"It takes months to get a Border Patrol agent trained and up to speed, so what we can do is take the National Guard and put them in supporting roles," he said.

In 2009-10, Zavesky said, his office stopped about 15 vans every month. Each van might contain as many as 20 people entering the country illegally.

His deputies catch much fewer these days, Zavesky said, but he thinks it's because the vehicles carrying the immigrants are much better disguised.

Farenthold is pitching a bill, H.R. 5230. Already approved by the House of Representatives, it provides $694 million to deal with the issue.

Some of the money would go to reimbursing the states for deploying the National Guard.

The proposed legislation also provides funding for expediting immigration proceedings, imposing a 14-day deadline for unaccompanied children's cases to be heard by a judge.

It would amend the 2008 William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act that treats children from nonbordering countries differently from those from Mexico.

If the Border Patrol determines a child is not a victim of crime or in danger, he or she would be deported immediately, according to information provided by Farenthold's office.

Farenthold recalled meeting a mother in a foreign country whose 6-year-old child was missing after coming to the U.S.

"We don't know if they are dead or victims of sex trafficking," he said of the missing. "We've got to stop these kids from making that dangerous trip."

Securing the border will do so, he said.

Jackson County Sheriff A.J. "Andy" Louderback was recently elected as the president of the Sheriffs' Association of Texas.

The Association is not critical of the governor's decision, he said.

He thinks deploying the National Guard is not financially sustainable.

Securing the border has been in the headlines for years, but the administration has failed to act.

"I don't know how you get their attention," Louderback said.

The crime that comes along with illegal entry, such as the trafficking of humans, sex, narcotics and firearms, is "staggering" and dealt with by sheriff's offices, he said.

Granting executive amnesty for another 6 million illegal immigrants will also cripple the state agency charged with dealing with them.

Victoria resident Sheena Vahalik, 31, added prohibiting people entering the country illegally from signing up for federal assistance will deter them.

"We have veterans we can't even take care of, and here we are helping everyone else," she said.

Russell Cain, the Calhoun County Republican chairman, said Gov. Rick Perry's move was not politically motivated.

He described Perry as a go-getter.

"That's the problem with America. People do not speak out," he said. "Somebody else will not take care of it."

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