President Bush delivered a nationally-televised address Monday night trying to get congress to make some progress on immigraton reform. The most talked about part of his speech was the plan to send National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border for one year–6,000 of them. This was arguably the most important piece of news in the speech and the one almost every story I have seen has led with. Here is the Washington Post lead:
President Bush said last night that he will dispatch 6,000 National Guard troops starting next month to help secure the porous U.S.-Mexican border, calling on a divided Congress and country to find “a rational middle ground” on immigration that includes providing millions of illegal workers a new route to citizenship.
But that’s not the full story. But Bush’s proposal calls for 156,000 National Guard troops because under Guard deloyment policies, the 6,000 would rotate every two-three weeks. This is a huge number of troops (a third of the Guard) and raises serious questions about how they can be efficiently rotated or even brought in, with the war in Iraq streching troops thin and US states needing them in case of natural disasters. So the lead above is misleading. Very few organizations led with this figure, which is much more accurate. The Columbus Dispatch was one of them:
About 156,000 National Guard troops from across the country would each serve two or three weeks to support border patrols along the U.S.-Mexican border beginning next month under President Bush’s plan.