In a prime-time, nationally televised address this evening, President Bush said there would be no militarization of the U.S. border with Mexico in order to stem the ongoing invasion by illegal aliens, despite his announcement of increased support by the National Guard.
“The United States is not going to militarize the southern border,” Bush said. “Mexico is our neighbor and our friend. We will continue to work cooperatively to improve security on both sides of the border, to confront common problems like drug trafficking and crime, and to reduce illegal immigration.”
The president said the debate over immigration reform has reached a time of decision, and announced immediate steps to strengthen border enforcement.
Bush said up to 6,000 National Guard members would be deployed to the southern border, but act only in support positions to the U.S. Border Patrol.
“The Guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads and providing training. Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities that duty will be done by the Border Patrol,” Bush said.
He also called for an end to “catch and release” practices, where illegal aliens are let go only with a request to appear in court at a future date.
“We have expanded the number of beds in our detention facilities, and we will continue to add more,” Bush said. “We have expedited the legal process to cut the average deportation time. And we are making it clear to foreign governments that they must accept back their citizens who violate our immigration laws.”
Bush called on Congress to increase funding for Border Patrol, noting, “By the end of 2008, we will increase the number of Border Patrol officers by an additional 6,000. When these new agents are deployed, we will have more than doubled the size of the Border Patrol during my presidency.”
He also stressed the need for the use of new technology in providing security.
“We are launching the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history. We will construct high-tech fences in urban corridors, and build new patrol roads and barriers in rural areas. We will employ motion sensors infrared cameras and unmanned aerial vehicles to prevent illegal crossings. America has the best technology in the world and we will ensure that the Border Patrol has the technology they need to do their job and secure our border.”
He again mentioned his support for a temporary worker program, claiming it would lead to better border security.
“I support a temporary worker program that would create a legal path for foreign workers to enter our country in an orderly way, for a limited period of time. This program would match willing foreign workers with willing American employers for jobs Americans are not doing. Every worker who applies for the program would be required to pass criminal background checks. And temporary workers must return to their home country at the conclusion of their stay.”
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