SAN LUIS, Ariz. – More than 1,000 National Guard troops will be working at the U.S.-Mexico border by Thursday under President Bush's plan to free up immigration agents, officials said.
Three hundred National Guard troops were already along the border, and the remaining 700 set to arrive by Thursday will be divided among the four southern border states, said Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for Homeland Defense.
The build-up occurs as authorities report significant reductions in illegal border crossings.
Detentions along the border decreased by 21 percent, to 26,994, in the first 10 days of June, compared with 34,077 for the same period a year ago, officials said Monday.
Bush's plan calls for up to troops to perform support duties that will allow federal authorities to focus on border security. They wouldn't perform significant law enforcement duties. The goal is to have the troops at the border until new Border Patrol agents are trained.
The total number of troops at the 2,000-mile border would rise to 2,500 by month's end and would meet Bush's goal of 6,000 by Aug. 1, McHale said.
San Luis is part of the busiest Border Patrol station in the country.