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National Guard Troops Deployed to the California Border

California deployed 224 National Guard troops along its border with Mexico Wednesday, the first of the 1,200 troops Obama ordered to the southern border to amp up security measures. But critics argue the the National Guard deployment is just a band-aid for border security problems.

The troops in California will be stationed across San Diego County to deter criminal activity along the border, the Los Angeles Times reported. They will not make arrests of illegal immigrants, instead acting as “a visible deterrent … and additional eyes and ears in the field,” a spokeswoman for the National Guard told the LA Times.

The Obama administration has made a concerted effort to show its commitment to border security, a prerequisite for Republican cooperation on comprehensive immigration reform. Last week, Congress passed a $600 million border security bill, aimed in part at moving the conversation on immigration reform beyond the border. But so far Republicans are still arguing more needs to be done at the border before comprehensive immigration reform can go forward.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday deployment should not be used as an alternative to immigration reform:

“We must find a permanent solution to our broken immigration system,” he said.

“We need the federal government to step up with even more manpower and funding, and I will continue to push President Obama and Congress for action.”‘

Beyond comprehensive immigration reform, national security experts argue Congress should push for more funding for the Drug Enforcement Administration and other efforts to fight Mexican drug cartels. As Bob Killebrew, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told TWI: “We can react to crises with pinpricks, like sending more National Guard troops, but the real solutions are more complicated,” he said.

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