U.S. Senators Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today made the following statements after voting in favor of Senator John Ensign’s (R-Nev.) amendment to comprehensive immigration reform legislation. The amendment authorizes the use of the National Guard to support Border Patrol operations and was adopted by a vote of 83-10:
“Comprehensive immigration reform demands that we bolster our border security. President Bush’s plan allowing the National Guard to provide temporary, stopgap assistance to the Border Patrol will make our nation safer,” Frist said. “I’m pleased the Senate has demonstrated its overwhelming support for this commonsense measure.”
"Upholding the rule of law on our border is as important as defending our freedom in Iraq,” Alexander said. “While we are training more border patrol agents and building new fences, we should mobilize all of the government’s resources, including the National Guard in appropriate and temporary ways. This amendment, which authorizes President Bush’s plan to deploy 6,000 members of the National Guard, is a serious and important step toward securing our border."
The Ensign amendment allows the governor of a state to order National Guard units to assist in security activities along the southern border, provided the Secretary of Defense approves the order as well. Assistance authorized by the amendment includes:
· ground and airborne reconnaissance activities;
· construction of roadways, patrol roads, fences, barriers, and other facilities to secure the border;
· communications services;
· ground and air transportation;
· emergency medical assistance; and
· logistical support.