McCain and Jon Kyl

McCain, Kyl want troops on U.S.-Mexico border


By Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times

With border violence flaring again, the two U.S. senators from Arizona on Monday called on President Obama to deploy 3,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in their state, saying the borders must be secured before the White House pursues a broader immigration bill.

The call from Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl, both Republicans, was made the same day Arizona’s Legislature approved a bill to make it a state crime to be an illegal immigrant. The measure now goes to Gov. Jan Brewer, who has not taken a position on the measure.

“It’s a very important step forward,” said Mr. McCain, who in the past had fought for a broad bill legalizing illegal immigrants but who on Monday said illegal immigration has led to deteriorating security in Arizona.

The senators said they want Mr. Obama to deploy 3,000 National Guard troops until Arizona’s governor certifies that the government has operational control. They also said an additional 3,000 Border Patrol agents should be sent to the state over the next five years.

Mr. McCain and Mr. Kyl called on the Justice Department to expand a program that guarantees illegal immigrants serve time in jail, rather than being immediately sent back across the border. Mr. Kyl said the program has shown great promise where it’s been used.

A Homeland Security spokesman said the administration is evaluating law enforcement options, including using the National Guard, but pointed to strides made over the past five years to boost the U.S. Border Patrol.

“The Border Patrol is better staffed today than at any time in its 85-year history,” said spokesman Matt Chandler, pointing to the more than 4,000 agents in Arizona and 20,000 total across the country, or more than twice the number compared with six years ago.

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