It's fairly safe to conclude that the government botched its attempt to secure the border. The article I wrote last week, "Border security: Based on 'dreams, hopes and fantasy'" (great headline, right?) basically found that the government never knew what it wanted, gave very little instruction to its contractor Boeing (who didn't know what it was doing either) and therefore wasted billions of dollars and basically has nothing in place.
There is plenty of fault to go around, that's for sure.
I spoke to the report's author, Tom Barry, about his discussions with the Customs & Border Patrol and law enforcement in the area. Here's what he told me:
During his research, which included reaching out to law enforcement agencies along the border, Barry found that many agencies expressed a desire to have more “boots on the ground” rather than relying so heavily on technology. Although law enforcement agencies expressed eagerness to have improved methods of communication and technology such as GPS systems to improve their efficiencies, they did not view technology as being the primary solution to border issues.
Well, apparently President Obama agrees with this "boots on the ground" approach. It was just announced that the administration wants to send 1,200 National Guard troops to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition, they will also request $500 million for border protection and law enforcement activities, reported CBS News.
The National Guard troops will work on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, analysis and training, and support efforts blocking drug trafficking. The troops will temporarily supplement border patrol agents until Customs and Border Patrol can recruit and train additional officers and agents to serve on the border.
Nothing has been officially announced yet and I think the appropriations part will need to be approved through Congress. This change in strategy I think represents a recognition of the utter failure of border security thus far, as well as the growing violence along the border.
Some say this move is good, but not good enough (but will it ever be?):
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the situation on the border has "greatly deteriorated." He called for 6,000 National Guard troops to be sent to the U.S.-Mexico border. "I appreciate the additional 1,200 being sent ... as well as an additional $500 million, but it's simply not enough," McCain said.
I thought the last graph of this article was interesting:
Homeland Security and Pentagon officials have been jousting over the possible National Guard deployment for the better part of a year. Pentagon officials worried about perceptions that the U.S. was militarizing the border and did not want Guard troops to perform law enforcement duties.
Frankly, I think the least of our concerns should be over the perception that we're militarizing the border ('cause I think we need to) and who cares who does it? Border Patrol obviously doesn't have the resources or manpower so send in the troops, but let's just have a clear strategy folks - that's really the challenge here.