In an effort to strengthen security on the 4,000 mile border between the United States and Canada, Attorney General John Ashcroft has announced that the United States Border Patrol will be augmented by the National Guard on the Northern Border. The two phase program will include personnel, intelligence, and air support.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld Attorney General Ashcroft said, "The terrorist attacks on the United State have sharply focused national attention on the security of this country's borders. However, since September 11, maintaining heightened readiness and security have required extraordinary efforts from limited staff resources. The INS is seeking to supplement its existing staff temporarily in order to maintain both heightened security and legitimate international travel."
For the initial phase, the Immigration and Naturalization Service is requesting 419 National Guard Bureau soldiers to augment the INS inspectors that have been operating at Threat Level One since September 11. This heightened level of security requires additional staffing of land border ports and enhanced procedures and processes at air, land, and seaports to ensure all applicants for admission, vehicles, luggage, and cargo are thoroughly inspected.
The increased security has resulted in delays at some land border ports-of-entry and an increased burden on the existing staff on the Northern Border. The INS has already detailed 120 Border Patrol Agents to the Northern Border to assist with this effort. Twelve states have been identified to receive National Guard Bureau soldiers who will be deployed to 43 ports-of-entry to assist the INS.
The second phase will include aircraft, intelligence, and additional personnel. The INS requested aircraft support to establish air capabilities to fulfill the law enforcement mission of the Border Patrol. Military support will provide intelligence analysis, threat assessments, and intelligence training. This will enable to the Border Patrol to focus and deploy its resources in areas to address the threat and achieve the highest impact.
Both phases are short term missions while the Border Patrol recruits and trains additional personnel and develops its air and intelligence capabilities. The operation will not be military in nature, its purpose is to fulfill the responsibilities of the Border Patrol