May 15th, 2006 11:22 EST
Bush Urges National Guard Support for Border Patrol Operations By Stephen Kaufman
Washington -- U.S. National Guard troops would support U.S. Border Patrol personnel in a plan President Bush will present to the American people during a televised address May 15.
White House press secretary Tony Snow told reporters that the deployment of the guardsmen will free up existing Border Patrol personnel to focus on enforcement along the 3,200-kilometer U.S.-Mexico border and buy time for more border patrol agents to be trained.
The guardsmen would not be involved in law enforcement, Snow emphasized, but would provide services such as construction, surveillance and transportation.
President Bush will be making his televised remarks at 0000 UTC May 16 (2000 Eastern Daylight Time, May 15).
Snow said Bush has telephoned Mexico's President Vicente Fox to assure him that there is "no attempt to militarize the border." The White House spokesman said Bush and Fox also "agreed to continue to work cooperatively on matters of law enforcement and security in the border areas."
As to the timing of the president's remarks, Snow said that the U.S. Senate plans to debate a proposed bill on immigration, with a vote on the legislation anticipated for early in the week of May 22.
According to Snow, the president is eager to work with both houses of Congress for effective legislation concerning immigration and border patrol. (See related article.)
Bush "cares very deeply" about immigration, Snow said, and has "very strong feelings about addressing the issue, addressing it directly, and getting it right."
The White House press secretary said the president is focusing on four areas for immigration reform: border security, interior enforcement, establishing a temporary guest worker program, and assimilating newcomers.
"Part of the American dream has always been to welcome people who are eager to participate in the American experience and also assimilate," Snow said.
President Bush intends to visit the U.S.-Mexico border on May 18, the press secretary said.
For additional information, see Visas, Passports and Immigration.