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First wave of National Guard Troops head for the border

Two hundred National Guard soldiers are scheduled to arrive at the California-Mexico border next week. Six hundred more soldiers will head to other border states and signal the launch of President Bush's plan to use the National Guard to assist the Border Patrol. KPBS Reporter Amy Isackson has details.

National Guard Chief Steven Blum testified before the House Armed Service Committee. He said troops could be stationed on the border for up to two years -- until the Border Patrol increases its ranks. Blum said during the first year, 6,000 National Guard troops would go to the border. During a possible second year of deployment, that would be cut in half.

Blum said Guard soldiers will not have law enforcement responsibility. But they could use force to protect themselves or agents.

Blum: "If that Border Patrol agent is under attack, they could certainly come to the aid of the Border Patrol and we would expect them to do so. But they're not going to be acting as deputy Border Patrol people on a routine basis."

The Guard troops will come from states whose governors believe they can spare the soldiers. Amy Isackson, KPBS News.


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