By JAVIER MANJARRES
Additional questions and concerns about the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan immigration reform bill, The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act continue to swirl among critics of the proposed legislation, and now some are questioning whether the legislation would subordinate the the U.S. military and place it under direction of the Department of Homeland Security.
The bill is said to strengthen border security, and has given the American people, who have been asking for the U.S. Military to be positioned along the Southern border, the belief that the U.S. Military will be placed on the border to, in essence, ‘shut down’ the border.
But the bill doesn’t guarantee that this will happen. The bill states that “with the approval of the Secretary of Defense, the Governor of a State may order units or personnel of the National Guard” to assist with border security or other “missions.”
So, if authorized by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, it would be up to Governors Perry of Texas, Jan Brewer of Arizona, and Martinez of New Mexico, to deploy their state’s respective national guard units to the border region.
Keep in mind that the “Southwest Border Region” has been identified by the Department of Homeland Security of being the land that is within 100 miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. This would means that the city of Tucson, Arizona, as well as the California cities of San Diego, Oceanside, and even cities as far north as Mission Viejo, are all situated within the 100 mile border region.
The bill also mandates that the National Guard, if deployed, would assist the U.S. Customs and Border Protection with border protection, and their duties would include, helping construct any and all border fencing, increase ground-based mobile surveillance, and deploying “additional unmanned aerial systems and manned aircraft sufficient to maintain continuous surveillance of the Southern Border.”
But then the bill specifically outlines that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection roll alongside the U.S. Military would include the deployment of ”additional mobile, video, and agent-portable surveillance systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles in the Southwest Border region as necessary to provide 24-hour operation and surveillance,” as well as ”operate unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles” and “deploy unarmed additional fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters along the Southern border.”
It is unclear whether the U.S. military will cease using armed drones and helicopters when working alongside the U.S. Border Patrol or if it will be ordered to follow an almost non-existent domestic ‘Rules of Engagement’ policy. Note that the bill does not specify if the “unarmed helicopters” would be allowed to have armed military personnel aboard the aircraft or if it simply means that the aircraft is fitted with weapons.
Here’s the language of the bill as it currently reads-
SEC. 1103. NATIONAL GUARD SUPPORT TO SECURE THE SOUTHERN BORDER.
(a) IN GENERAL.—With the approval of the Secretary of Defense, the Governor of a State may order any units or personnel of the National Guard of such State to perform operations and missions under section 502(f) of title 32, United States Code, in the Southwest Border region for the purposes of assisting U.S. Customs and Border Protection in securing the Southern border. (b) ASSIGNMENT OF OPERATIONS AND MISSIONS.— (1) IN GENERAL.—National Guard units and
personnel deployed under subsection (a) may be assigned such operations and missions specified in subsection (c) as may be necessary to secure the Southern border. (2)
NATURE OF DUTY.—The duty of National Guard personnel performing operations and missions described in paragraph (1) shall be full-time duty under title 32, United States Code.
(c) RANGE OF OPERATIONS AND MISSIONS.—The operations and missions assigned under subsection (b) shall include the temporary authority— (1) to construct fencing, including double-layer and triple-layer fencing; (2) to increase ground-based mobile surveillance systems; (3) to deploy additional unmanned aerial systems and manned aircraft sufficient to maintain continuous surveillance of the Southern Border;
(4) to deploy and provide capability for radio communications interoperability between U.S. Customs and Border Protection and State, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies; (5) to construct checkpoints along the Southern border to bridge the gap to long-term permanent checkpoints; and (6) to provide assistance to U.S. Customs and
Border Protection, particularly in rural, high-trafficked areas, as designated by the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
(d) MATERIEL AND LOGISTICAL SUPPORT.—The Secretary of Defense shall deploy such materiel and equipment and logistical support as may be necessary to ensure success of the operations and missions conducted by the National Guard under this section.
(e) EXCLUSION FROM NATIONAL GUARD PERSONNEL STRENGTH LIMITATIONS.—National Guard personnel deployed under subsection (a) shall not be included in— (1) the calculation to determine compliance with limits on end strength for National Guard personnel; or (2) limits on the number of National Guard personnel that may be placed on active duty for operational support under section 115 of title 10, United States Code
SEC. 1106. EQUIPMENT AND TECHNOLOGY.
(a) ENHANCEMENTS.—The Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, working through U.S. Border Patrol, shall— (1) deploy additional mobile, video, and agent-portable surveillance systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles in the Southwest Border region as necessary to provide 24-hour operation and surveillance; (2) operate unarmed unmanned aerial vehicles along the Southern border for 24 hours per day and
for 7 days per week; (3) deploy unarmed additional fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters along the Southern border; EAS13500 S.L.C. (4) acquire new rotocraft and make upgrades to the existing helicopter fleet; and (5) increase horse patrols in the Southwest Border region.
(b) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—In addition to amounts otherwise authorized to be appropriated, there is authorized to be appropriated to U.S. Customs and Border Protection such sums as may be necessary to carry out subsection (a) during fiscal years 2014 through 2018.
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