On Monday, the first deployment of National Guard troops will begin arriving along the porous Arizona border separating the United States and northern Mexico. With border violence on the rise, area residents await troop arrivals with measured optimism.
National Guard troops will begin arriving along the Arizona side of the border in small groups, and without fanfare. It is anticipated that over five hundred troops will be deployed to the region by the end of September. Their effectiveness however, is hard to predict, as the troops although armed, will only operate as observers. The troops lack the authority to make arrests themselves.
Still, the extra boots on the ground are expected to create an additional deterrent for would be smugglers and others who may attempt to cross the border illegally. Some experts however, believe the drug cartels will simply move their operations elsewhere, such as southern Texas, which is already experiencing an increase in drug related violent crimes.
Illegal immigration has become a key hot-button issue in recent months, especially among Republicans and Tea Party supporters. However, even long time Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain has acknowledged that the situation is not as simple as erecting a two thousand mile fence through the rocky desert or deploying troops along the border.
Arizona governor Jan Brewer has criticized the Obama administration for not doing enough to stem the flow of illegal activity along the border. Brewer recently enacted new laws designed to mitigate the situation, but several sections of the new bill, SB-1070 were ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. Brewer and her attorneys filed a brief addressing the matter earlier this morning.