Bush may deploy troops to Mexico border in immigration crackdown

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The Independent US

By focusing on border security, the White House is hoping to apply pressure on the US Senate finally to approve sweeping new legislation that aims at once to reduce illegal immigration, while also giving undocumented workers already in the country a chance to attain citizenship.

The issue is a highly contentious one. Conservatives are voicing deep dissatisfaction with the country's inability to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Many employers, on the other hand, are anxious to hold on to what is a large and inexpensive workforce. Millions of immigrants have staged large protest marches in recent weeks, enraged by a much harsher version of the legislation in the House of Representatives that would increase penalties on those illegally in the country and make it a crime to help or employ them.

Any military deployment to the border is likely first to involve troops of the National Guard, who are usually under the control of individual states. Texas and Arizona have both asked for federal funding to pay for new deployments.

However, with the National Guard already very stretched, including in Iraq, some governors may oppose such a step. Already the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger has said that guard members returning from Iraq should be able to return to civilian life rather than manning America's borders.