President Obama will send 1,200 National Guard troops to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, and will request $500 million for border protection and law enforcement, he announced during the week of May 24.
According to The Washington Post, the move may be an olive branch offered to Republicans to entice them to let Obama’s immigration reform measures move forward. Senate Republicans told Obama in a recent meeting that border security needed to be strengthened before any legislation should be passed.
Republicans say the violent drug cartel wars in Mexico are beginning to spill across the border into the U.S., pointing to the killing of Arizona rancher Robert Krentz after he reported drug-smuggling activity on his land.
“The violence has crossed the border and escalated to a point where many Arizonans do not feel safe within their own homes or on their own property,” Arizona Republican Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl wrote last week in a letter to Obama, according to the Post. “It would be irresponsible not to do everything we can to stop the escalating violence along the border with Mexico.”
Not everyone is pleased with Obama’s decision. Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, a group that wants tighter borders, but also advocates for immigrant rights, thinks Obama caved into Republican pressure without a more thorough negotiation.
“Talk about one step forward and two steps back,” Sharry told USA Today.