Representatives Ted Poe (TX-02), Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08), Ed Royce (CA-40), Dan Burton (IN-05) and additional members of Congress call on President Obama to take immediate action to address the growing national security threat on our southern border.

In a letter being sent to the President, Congressional members are urging the administration to grant requests from the governors of our nation border states for National Guard troops to be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition, the letter specifically requests that any National Guard troops that are deployed should be armed and allowed to defend themselves if fired upon; upon request, assist in defending Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement officers; and that they be provided with very clear guidance of proper rules of engagement.

Border patrol and local law enforcement on the border are out-manned, out-gunned, and out-financed, said Rep. Ted Poe. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been asking for National Guard troops for over a year, but Washington continues to ignore these requests.  This is not a partisan or political issue, this is a national security issue. I urge the administration to take immediate action on this request and secure the border.

Border security is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, an American issue, said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Every American, no matter which party they belong to or where they live, is deeply concerned about restoring law and order in our border communities. These communities have suffered enough. President Obama needs to immediately deploy the National Guard and send a clear message to the drug cartels: We will fight you, we will stop you and we will never waiver in our commitment to securing our border.

Recent news reports of the murders of Lesley Enriquez, a U.S. Consulate employee, and her husband Arthur Redelf, a ten year veteran of the El Paso Police Department, and long-time Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, have brought the seriousness of this issue to the national forefront.

Rep. Ed Royce added, As the Ranking Member of the Terrorism Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee I know all too well that border security is national security. For years I have supported programs like Operation Jump Start that seek to address our nations border vulnerabilities which is why I am pleased to work with Rep. Poe to give Americans what theyve been asking the federal government to deliver for years: border enforcement. I hope this Administration makes border enforcement more of a priority.

Border Patrol and law enforcement agents along the border are facing a growing threat to their safety. Assaults against Border Patrol agents increased 46 percent from 752 incidents in 2007 to 1,097 incidents in 2008.  Recent analysis from the El Paso Sector Border Intelligence Center warns that retaliatory actions against law enforcement officers could occur in the border region.

The bipartisan letter gained the support of the National Border Patrol Council. "The National Border Patrol Council strongly endorses the recent requests of several border state governors and Members of Congress to deploy National Guard troops to perform support functions for the Border Patrol," stated T.J. Bonner, the organization's president. "In its view, the National Guard's contributions in that role over the past several years have been invaluable. The Council believes that these troops should be armed and authorized to defend themselves and others against attacks. The unwavering support of the dedicated men and women of the Border Patrol by certain Members of Congress, including the signatories to today's letter to President Obama, is greatly appreciated by the National Border Patrol Council. The tasks performed by Border Patrol agents are often dangerous and thankless, so it is heartening to know that some of our elected officials understand and appreciate the importance of the Border Patrol's mission and are trying to obtain the resources and support that are needed by front-line agents."

The letter also urges the Administration to provide the Border Patrol with the support it needs, both in terms of tangible resources such as state-of-the-art technology and equipment, as well as ensuring that agents are not disciplined or prosecuted for performing their duties or defending themselves against attacks.

Members of Congress on the letter (as of April 27, 2010): Rep. Ted Poe (TX-02); Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08); Rep. Dan Burton (IN-05); Rep. Edward Royce (CA-40); Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02); Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10); Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12); Rep. Brian Bilbray (CA-50); Rep. John Carter (TX-31); Rep. Sam Johnson (TX-03); Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01); Rep. John Culberson (TX-07); Rep. Joe Barton (TX-06); Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26); Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-52); Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-04); Rep. John Shadegg (AZ-03)

Full text of the letter:

April 28, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

As you know, violence in the vicinity of the U.S.-Mexico border continues to increase at an alarming rate. We believe that this violence represents a serious threat to the national security of the United States as well as a serious threat to U.S. citizens that live along the 1,969 mile long border. We strongly believe that it is imperative for your Administration to promptly take the necessary steps to prevent this violence.

We urge the Administration to take action to address this growing national security threat on our southern border. Without swift and decisive action, it is our fear that this violence will only increase in severity and scope. We urge you to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, as has been requested by a number of border state Governors and Members of Congress. We ask that any National Guard troops that are deployed should be provided with very clear guidance of proper rules of engagement and should be armed and allowed to defend themselves if fired upon or attacked.

As you know, the level of violence along the border continues to increase. Since January 2008, nearly 5,000 homicides have been committed in Juarez, Mexico, making it one of the most violent cities in the world. In 2009 alone, 79 U.S. citizens were killed in Juarez, Mexico. On March 13th of this year, Lesley Enriquez, a U.S. Consulate employee, and her husband Arthur Redelf, a ten year veteran of the El Paso Police Department, were killed when Mexican drug gang members fired a number of rounds at their vehicle. That same day, Jorge Alberto Salcido, the husband of a U.S. Consulate employee, was killed when cartel members shot at his car at a separate location.

On March 27, 2010, Robert Krentz, a longtime Arizona rancher, was found shot dead and slumped over in his all-terrain vehicle with the engine still running. Following the murder of Mr. Krentz, his assailant was tracked to the U.S.- Mexico border and there is evidence that he crossed the border into Mexico. The day before the killing, Mr. Krentzs brother had called the Border Patrol to report a caravan of undocumented immigrants who were ultimately caught carrying 280 pounds of marijuana.

Additionally, our Border Patrol and law enforcement agents along the border are facing a growing threat to their safety. Assaults against Border Patrol agents increased 46 percent from 752 incidents in 2007 to 1,097 incidents in 2008. Recent analysis from the El Paso Sector Border Intelligence Center warns that retaliatory actions against law enforcement officers could occur in the border region.

At the same time, we urge the Administration to provide the Border Patrol with the support it needs, both in terms of tangible resources such as state-of-the-art technology and equipment, as well as ensuring that agents are not disciplined or prosecuted for performing their duties or defending themselves against attacks.

We stand ready to work together with you and your Administration on these important issues to ensure the safety and security of all Americans in the border region and throughout our country.