The United States is working up a contingency plan that would allow the military and Department of Homeland Security to send National Guard troops to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico, the Washington Post reported April 25.
White House officials said the plan would help contain drug-related violence that is spilling into the U.S. from Mexico.
“They may say that this is for the National Guard, but the way [the plan is] written, it is really a blank check for the Defense Department to do whatever it wants on counter-drug issues at the border — and it doesn’t say which side of the border,” said critic Joy Olson, executive director of the Washington Office on Latin America.
U.S. officials said the $350 million slated to fund the initiative is meant to focus on the U.S. side of the border, with funds becoming available at the end of September 2010. The proposal also gives the Secretary of Defense the power to transfer up to $100 million to other federal agencies.
Obama has said he was “not interested in militarizing the border,” and Mexican officials worry about possible cross-border military interventions from the U.S.
One U.S. official said the Guard’s job “would be the counternarcotics surveillance work they already do, consistent with existing missions. They … would not be opening trunks and arresting people.”