WASHINGTON - President Bush today thanked National Guard members deployed across Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico for helping the Border Patrol crack down on illegal entry across America's southern border.
"We've worked with our nation's governors to deploy 6,000 National Guard members to provide the Border Patrol with immediate reinforcements," Bush said during a speech on immigration policy in Yuma, Ariz. "It's called Operation Jump Start, and the Guard down here is serving nobly."
Announced by the president May 2006, Operation Jump Start deployed National Guard members to assist the Border Patrol in protecting the U.S.-Mexico border.
"It takes time to train the Border Patrol," Bush said, "and until they're fully trained, we've asked the Guard to come down."
National Guard troops are providing immediate help with surveillance, construction and logistics, and Guardsmen are building fences, as well as manning detection equipment on the border and in command centers.
The arrival of National Guard reinforcements in four southern border states has put more manpower on the border and allowed the border patrol to move more than 300 agents into front-line positions. White House officials reported that the additional manpower is helping curb illegal immigrants from entering the country.
Speaking from the Yuma, Ariz. border patrol sector, where more than 600 National Guard members are stationed, Bush said members there are pleased with their assignment.
"I had the chance to visit with some of the Guard, and ... they like being down here in Yuma, Arizona," he said. "They like the people, and they like the mission."
Bush voiced his appreciation for the Guard members and their families.
"I thank their families for standing by the men and women who wear the uniform during this particular mission," Bush said. "You e-mail them back home and tell them how much I appreciate the fact they're standing by it."