Letter to Congressman Reyes, Re: National Guard

The Honorable Silvestre Reyes                                                                                    July 30, 2010

U.S. House of Representatives

Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Reyes,

On August 1, 2010, hundreds of National Guard troops will arrive on the border as ordered by President Obama to work with the Border Patrol in our communities. As a group that represents thousands of border residents in El Paso and Southern New Mexico, the Border Network for Human Rights wants to convey its unambiguous opposition to this deployment and ask for your help in stopping further militarization of the border.

We believe that proposals to deploy the National Guard are ill-conceived, ineffective and dangerous to the lives of border residents. National Guard deployments have in the past been limited to emergency situations but there is no emergency situation on the U.S. side of the southern border. Statistics show clearly that the border is one of the safest areas of the country, one in which the crime rate hasn’t increased in several years. As you know, El Paso continues to be the second safest city of its size in the United States. The administration is well aware of this reality and has said publicly that the border is more secure than it has ever been.

But the ongoing militarization of the border is not benign for those who live here. Our safety is being sacrificed by those who believe that soldiers trained for war belong near family neighborhoods or should be involved in supporting domestic law enforcement. Let’s not forget that in 1997, U.S. Marines sent to help secure the border, mistakenly shot and killed a teenage U.S. citizen who was peacefully herding goats. The National Guard was not designed as a national police force, nor should it be used as such.

Some politicians have an interest in portraying the border as a war zone in need of military intervention but our communities and the taxpayer can hardly afford this expensive and ineffectual approach. In conclusion, it is time to rethink our border policy by increasing the quality and accountability of border enforcement, not the quantity of armed agents and soldiers on our southern border.

As the representative of a border district, we know that you understand the federal government’s responsibility to protect the lives and well being of border residents as it is to protect residents of the interior of the United States. We urge you to lead the fight to pursue real solutions to border enforcement that take into account the needs of the border region.


Fernando Garcia, Executive Director, Border Network for Human Rights

More information on the Border Network for Human Rights: This organization, founded in 1998, is one of the leading immigration reform and human rights advocacy organization in the United States. Based in El Paso, the BNHR counts about 4,000 members in El Paso and Southern New Mexico. Visit us at www.bnhr.org.

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