Report: U.S. Misses Border Goal

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This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," June 30, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JULIE BANDERAS, GUEST HOST: The Bush administration planned to have 2,500 National Guard troops at our borders by the end of June. Well, now there's a report that as of Thursday it hadn't even reached half that number.

"Big Story" correspondent Douglas Kennedy recently went to check out some of these border towns. He also looked into this new report. What did you find out, Douglas?

DOUGLAS KENNEDY, BIG STORY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Julie, this was a report that ran in Thursday's Associated Press, but a Pentagon spokeswoman says this is absolutely false, that as of Friday they do have 2,500 troops in place in the border states and have met their goals.

Still not everyone wants National Guard troops on the border, including some who are adamant about curbing illegal immigration.

Joining us now is Colin Hanna, president of Colin, you have been opposed to this plan from the very start. Tell me why.

COLIN HANNA, WENEEDAFENCE.COM: It's only a stopgap measure. It's not the mission of the National Guard or, frankly, the mission of the U.S. military. It's the mission of the Border Patrol, and half measures and stopgap measures are not the way to go.

You need to have a combination of an adequate staffing level for the Border Patrol and physical barrier. That's the rational midpoint between using manpower only, which would require in excess of 100,000 agents, and using a physical barrier system only, which is not our proposal.

The rational midpoint is good staffing augmented by a physical barrier. And we think that until you get to that point, until you reach that level of reality, anything else is going to be ineffective.

KENNEDY: Well, I guess some people in those states agree with you, Colin, because 50 of the states were supposed to sign on but only 13 have so far. There are only 10 states that have actually sent National Guard troops. There is some timidity among the states. Why do you think that is?

HANNA: Because they recognize that they have a primary responsibility to serve the National Guard's mission and not to serve other kinds of stopgap measures. Most states and most National Guard units are so patriotic, Douglas, that they're willing to respond to any call. They'll respond to calls for emergencies.

And, of course, there have been distracting calls for emergencies with the heavy rains in the Northeast recently. There are all sorts of other issues that are closer to the National Guard's mission that they'll respond to first.

But if they're available to respond to a call to provide administrative support — and that's essentially what that proposal was. It was not to stand on the border. It was to provide administrative support that would free up other Border Patrol agents to be available to stand on the border. That's a secondary mission and we should never be surprised when a secondary mission cannot be fully addressed.

KENNEDY: And your primary mission at this point is, obviously, putting the fence on the border. There's been recent progress in that. Tell me about that.

HANNA: There certainly has been. First of all, the Senate had a bill that was passed. It's languishing and may never see the light of day because of some of the other components in it, but it had a bill for 370 miles. The House had a bill for 700 miles of fencing. Private groups like the Minutemen are doing their own...

KENNEDY: Well, Colin, listen, thank you very much. We're running out of time here. We'll see what you do in the election. The border continues to be a controversy, Julie, and we'll see how it plays in 2008.

BANDERAS: Oh, it will be interesting to see how it plays come November, especially. All right, thank you so much.

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