May 15 2006

Graham Supports Temporary Use of National Guard in Border Security Effort

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today said he supports the temporary use of National Guard troops to help secure our nation’s southern border. Graham is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Personnel of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“As a short-term measure, I support the use of National Guard troops at the border,” said Graham. “The Guard can act as a force multiplier freeing up more Border Patrol agents to pursue and apprehend those illegally crossing into the United States. This use of the Guard, on a temporary basis, makes sense and will be a shot in the arm to our border security efforts.”

“However, putting National Guard troops at the border is not a long-term strategy,” said Graham. “It should only be used until we can get an expanded Border Patrol up and running. An expanded Border Patrol, along with the use of additional fences, walls, and technology, are key ingredients in regaining control of our broken southern border.”

Graham noted the compromise immigration reform bill before the Senate authorizes the hiring of an additional 12,000 Border Patrol agents over the next five years. The compromise also calls for the building of fences and walls in certain high-traffic areas to prevent illegal crossings. In other areas, a ‘virtual’ fence relying on cameras, motion detectors, and other technological devices will be created.

Graham also authored a provision, accepted in committee, which gets more individuals with military backgrounds into the Border Patrol. Due to modernization, in the coming years we’re expected to have a reduced number of people serving in some areas of the military. These veterans, with years of military experience and training, are excellent candidates to serve in our expanded Border Patrol.

“Protecting the border is basically a law enforcement function,” said Graham. “While we do have military police units in the Guard, many of them have been activated several times in the War on Terror. I worry the Guard doesn’t have the manpower to handle a long-term deployment protecting the border.

“The Guard is already on call to assist with future hurricane relief efforts and would be needed if another terrorist attack occurred on American soil,” said Graham. “If this mission were to last more than eighteen to twenty-four months, we could end up doing more harm than good by making it more difficult to recruit and retain Guard members.”