WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement tonight in response to President Bush's nationally televised address concerning immigration reform and his proposal to send some 6,000 National Guard troops to the United States-Mexico border:
"It is absolutely essential that we secure our borders, and that we know who is entering our country. Securing our borders is a national imperative and having the ways and means to do that is crucial. The President's speech tonight - in which he calls for the deployment of up to 6,000 national guard troops to our southern border - is a clear admission that this objective has not been accomplished.
"The deployment of national guard troops to our southern border raises many red flags, and even some Republicans - including Senator Hagel and Governor Schwarzenegger - have expressed serious concerns. This Administration is simply stretching our military too thin.
"I believe that the people who secure our borders should be specifically trained for that mission. The fact is, this Administration and Republican Congress have repeatedly disregarded the efforts of Democrats to strengthen our Border Patrol, and they have broken promises on funding additional Border Patrol agents, immigration enforcement agents and detention beds. For example, the Intelligence Reform Act, passed in 2004, mandated the hiring of an additional 2,000 Border Patrol agents over each of the next five years. However, the President and Congressional Republicans have failed to provide the necessary funding.
"Unfortunately, the President's proposal tonight seems to be motivated primarily by a desire to shore up support within the Republican Party's conservative political base - which is abandoning him in recent polls - rather than in pursuing a serious, bipartisan effort to craft responsible immigration reform and secure our borders effectively.
"Democrats have a different approach. We want to fund Border Patrol at the levels called for by the 9/11 Commission, as well as pass a comprehensive immigration reform measure. The President's call for a plan that is more than enforcement-only is a welcome sign."
The opinions expressed in this article represent the views of Congressman Steny Hoyer, or the specific person or organization that is quoted. Congressman Hoyer is the Federal Representative for the Fifth Congressional District of Maryland. Members of the United States House of Representatives serve two-year terms. Mr. Hoyer also serves as the Minority Whip. The Minority Whip is a member of the minority party in the U.S. House of Representatives who assists the Minority Leader in coordinating the party caucus in its responses to legislation and other matters.
Mr. Hoyer's website is located at http://www.hoyer.house.gov/. His office can be reached at (202) 225-4131. More biographical info on Mr. Hoyer can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steny_Hoyer.