Toward a Timeline of Militarization of the USA Border with Mexico

May 12–In response to Senate passage of the Goode amendment authorizing National Guard at the Border, AFSC and other border activist groups argue that militarization is not the answer: “Military operations are not new to the border region. Currently, Northern Command, Joint Task Force North and the National Guard have limited missions on the border. Critics of these operations say that the military is not trained to be operating in the backyards of U.S. communities and point to the 1997 shooting death of a Texas high school student, Ezequiel Hernandez, by a Marine operation while herding his family’s goats. The Marines determined that the 17-year old boy fit the profile of a drug smuggler and shot him. Shortly after the incident, the military’s role on the border was suspended. “When policing is done by soldiers, our communities become the enemy. Ezequiel Hernandez’s case proves this. There was, and obviously still are, good reasons the Posse Comitatus Act was passed 150 years ago,” said Pedro Rios, interim co-director of the San Diego office of the American Friends Service Committee.

May 12–Mexico Defense Minister Ricardo Clemente Vega Garcia meets with Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul McHale tells the press on May 16 that, “We simply provide to General Vega as a courtesy a preliminary review of the mission as it was evolving” (see below link to Homeland Security press briefing.)

May 14–According to a news release from Fox’s office, Bush on Sunday told his Mexican counterpart he was considering sending the National Guard to the border but said this did not constitute a militarization.–OhmyNews.

May 15–President introduces idea of militarizing the border for one year in a nationally televised speech.

May 16–Homeland Security press briefing. “We’ll have to look at what they want us to do over what time line, and then, having 3,500 people there and you can only get 200 of them on the equipment at a time doesn’t argue very well for bringing a big group in — it actually argues for exactly what I’m talking about, a rotational force,” says Guard Chief Gen. Blum.

May 16–For years, Mayor Elizabeth G. Flores has been asking Washington for more help in controlling not only illegal immigration but also drug trafficking here at the nation’s second-busiest border crossing. More Border Patrol. Better technology. More federal resources. But militarize the border with National Guardsmen? That is where she draws the line. “We have over 300 Border Patrol officers from here serving in Iraq. Why doesn’t [President Bush] bring them home to do the job they were trained to do?” said Flores as she walked inside City Hall, which overlooks Texas and U.S. flags out front and the Mexican flag about a quarter-mile away at the border.–Sylvia Moreno and Ann Scott Tyson, Washington Post.

May 18–NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico (AP) — Mexicans dismiss U.S. plans to send National Guard troops to the border and build hundreds of miles of triple-layered fencing as more futile efforts that will just fuel an already booming drug and migrant-smuggling industry. And with heavily armed Mexican soldiers in this violent border city, some worry the U.S. troop buildup could spark confrontations in an area where it is often difficult to tell where Mexico ends and the United States begins. “We are going to see a confrontation between troops over there and police here,” said Blanca Estela Aguilar, a 24-year-old party services saleswoman in Nuevo Laredo. “It could be in the long or short term, but it will happen. And many people are likely to die.

May 19–“The pander-to-fascist context seemed to relieve many observers from worrying overmuch that anything serious or long lasting will come from the President’s call to send National Guard troops to the Mexican border. As in: “isn’t he just pandering to fascists? Isn’t that what this troop thing is really about?” And then moving on to the next issue, as if it matters not at all that based on this week’s fascist pandering soon enough the troops will actually start moving into place.”–Peacefile

May 20–“If President Bush thought he could mobilize his conservative base with anti-immigrant fear-mongering while still appearing “compassionate,” his efforts fell flat.”–People’s Weekly World.

May 21–“The Democrat Party termed as irresponsible and detrimental US relations with Latin America and President George W. Bush’s decision to militarize the border with Mexico. In a Saturday radio program in Spanish, oppositors slammed the sending of 6,000 national guards to the border, announced by the US president on Monday. Representative Silvestre Reyes said in his message that bordering militarization won’t solve illegal immigration. Reyes, who was member of the Bordering Patrol for over two decades, stated that sending those soldiers to the border is an irresponsible, misinformed and inopportune measure, harmful for the weak relations with Latin America. Prior to the democrat speech, Bush, in his Saturday radio speech, denied that US illegal people will automatically receive the US citizenship, and urged to reinforce the bordering security.”–La Prensa Latina

May 21–“Saturday was a good day for Diana Joe and Barbara Ratliffe. The aunt and niece team camped out at Hope Park alongside the Rio Grande in Brownsville. They called their relatives, they received gifts from strangers and they didn’t eat.
That’s because the two women are on a four day hunger strike against the construction of a wall to divide the U.S.-Mexico Border.”–KGBT-4

May 22–“Bush has latched onto the troops-on-the-border issue in part to show that he can get at least one policy initiative through Congress, and in greater part to appease conservatives who are furious at him for backing a too-soft immigration reform bill. Bush’s tough talk on border security might cool some of their anger, but it’s a fool’s paradise measure that won’t put a dent in the illegal immigrant problem. And Congress shouldn’t con itself into thinking that it will.”–Earl Ofari Hutchinson

May 22–“In taking this action, the message sent by the U.S. government is that due to the Mexican government’s inability to create enough jobs for its citizens, and because of its inefficiency in controlling illegal emigration, the only option is to protect the border with walls, triple fences and whatever else is needed. And it has done this so adeptly it has the Fox government applauding, and ineptly thinking that this is a first step towards the integral legalization of migrants.”–Enrique A
ndrade González

May 24–“Teams of about 200 soldiers each will begin planning missions with U.S. Border Patrol and Customs officials as early as June 1, said Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, the National Guard’s top officer” reports Drew Brown of Knight Ridder.

May 27–“Any soldier assigned to a mission where he would be placed in harm or danger, where his life would be threatened potentially, will in fact be armed and will have the inherent right of self-protection,” says Guard Chief Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum. “The comments, in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, came as rules for the use of force were being ironed out at a meeting in Phoenix among representatives from four border-state governors and the National Guard.”

May 28–“The immigration plan, folks, is a farce being carried out by leadership who couldn’t change a tire without a credit card. In this case, their credit cards are maxed out.”–Bill Conroy, Narcosphere

May 30–Paul Shipley, spokesman for New Mexico Gov. Richardson, tells El Paso Times that he expects the memorandum to be signed in 24 hours. “We are already in the process of mobilizing the first 50 troops in charge of logistics and planning,”he says.

June 1–Governor Schwarzenegger agrees to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for border deployment of National Guard with “end date” in 2008 (two years and two federal elections away).

June 2–It’s a done deal. The border is militarized. Four Governors release signed MOU agreement with Department of Defense. Operation Jump Start begins. Tennessee Governor Bredesen says the Volunteer State has Guard troops who would like to go to the Mexico border.

June 2–“The basic choice is between what Mexican author Jose Vasconcelos once called Universopolis, a place in which all the races of the world are melded into a final “cosmic race,” and the Blade Runner scenario.”–Greg Guma, Vermont Guardian.

June 2–“SASABE, Mexico – Walkers braved 100-degree temperatures and began the third annual ”Migrant Trail: We Walk for Life” to bring attention to migrant deaths in the desert, which they say are due to border militarization and international economic policies. Calling it a ”gauntlet of death” and a ”migrant graveyard,” human rights activists led the march to express solidarity with migrants. Beginning on May 29, they walked from the border at Sasabe to Tucson, Ariz., along the eastern boundary of the Tohono O’odham Nation. “–Brenda Norrell, Indian Country Today.

From Nashville News Channel 5
June 2, 2006

Gov. Phil Bredesen was exploring whether members of the Tennessee National Guard might play a role in border patrol along the Mexican-U.S. border.

President George W. Bush has pledged to deploy as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to strengthen enforcement at the border.

The Democratic governor said he believes using Guard troops to secure the border is a reasonable request on a short-term basis.

“I know we have a number of Guard members that have expressed interest,” Bredesen said.

He said they’ll work out the logistics once he hears back from the National Guard.

Connecticut, Utah Guard troops head to border for annual training

By Arthur H. Rotstein, Associated Press Writer
June 2, 2006

TUCSON, Ariz. –A small detachment of Connecticut National Guard soldiers will arrive here Saturday to help with security on the U.S.-Mexico border but not as part of a 6,000-troop deployment scheduled to help the U.S. Border Patrol.
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Nor are about 50 Utah National Guard soldiers who will arrive Saturday in Yuma.

Both contingents will be working on fence construction and other engineering projects previously scheduled as part of their annual training, spokesmen for the Connecticut National Guard and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano said.

In all, 10 members of the 247th engineer detachment, based in New London, Conn., will be working on road improvements and vehicle barrier construction in the Nogales area, said Lt. Col. John Whitford, communications director for the Connecticut Guard.

An advance party arrived in Tucson earlier, Whitford said.

“It’s an annual training piece in the works from last year. Arizona approached us and had these missions that fit the 247th,” he said.

Last year, the unit spent two weeks in Nicaragua drilling wells for rural communities. Before that, soldiers spent a year restoring water service in and around Mosul, Iraq.

The unit also is prepared to dig three wells, including one at a Border Patrol facility, during its two-week stint before leaving Arizona on June 17, but that decision will be up to others, Whitford said.

The missions are in support of the Border Patrol, but the deployment is not part of the plan that President Bush announced last month.

He promised funding to send up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the four states on the Mexican border to perform support duties for the Border Patrol, freeing up agents to perform border security while more agents are hired and trained. The president’s plan is called Operation Jump Start.

Jeanine L’Ecuyer, Napolitano’s spokeswoman, said about 50 members of the Utah National Guard will arrive Saturday at the Marine Corps Air Station aboard a C-130 flown by the Wyoming Air National Guard.

The soldiers will be assigned to install lighting, build roads and improve fencing within a mile of the San Luis Port of Entry, she said.

L’Ecuyer said the first group from outside Arizona assigned as part of Operation Jump Start likely will be here somewhere around June 15. Three hundred Arizona National Guard soldiers are set to participate beginning in mid-June.

On Thursday, Napolitano and the other border-state governors signed an agreement with Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England to participate in the federally funded mission.

It calls for using National Guard troops for engineering; road and fencing building, transportation, surveillance, logistics, reconnaissance and port-of-entry duties but no direct law enforcement.

The soldiers deployed from other states would remain under the administrative command of their home state’s governor but would be under the operational control of the governor of the border state where they are deployed.

The mission is expected to last up to two years.
© Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

By mopress

Writer, Editor, Educator, Lifelong Student

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