As the allocated term for National Guard troops sent to bolster security on the U.S.’s southern border comes to an end, the Obama administration signals that their mission could be extended.
Arizona officials are being consulted by National Guard representatives for their views on what the next step should be for the troops, reports the Arizona Daily Star. One official from the state’s National Guard said Tuesday that it was possible that the mission of the 560 guards assigned to the Arizona border would be prolonged.
Homeland Security Secretary and former Arizona governor Janet Napolitano told Reuters in March that there had been no “final decision about whether and at what strength to leave the Guard at the border.” She stated that the guards “have proven to be very, very useful” at the frontier, and have made progress in terms of intercepting drugs being smuggled into the country.
The 1,200 extra troops have been stationed at the U.S. border for almost a year, and are scheduled to leave in June. They were intended as a temporary measure to secure the area while newly hired Border Patrol agents received training.
Some want the guards to stay longer; Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has warned that “I am concerned that when the current mission ends in June, the gains we have made will be immediately lost.”
“Arizona can ill afford that kind of loss in the effort to secure the border,” said Brewer.