Palazzo Discusses Impact of National Guard on the Southwest Border
Washington, DC - Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4), chairman of the National Guard and Reserve Caucus and member of the Mississippi National Guard, today in a hearing for the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security discussed the impact of the National Guard on the southwest border with acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan.
"How are you utilizing the National Guard," Palazzo asked. "Can you do more with them, and is there anything that we can do to assist you as a Congress in providing additional resources? I do think they're a great plug and play and can be a huge multiplying effect to you while you continue to have a shortage of resources. How are they helping your agency and your employees do their jobs on a daily basis?"
"Our partnership with the Department of Defense and the National Guard Bureau has been just tremendous," McAleenan responded. "It's been one of the key things we're relying on to increase the security of the border as well as to managing the humanitarian crisis we're facing. A week and a half ago I was in Rio Grande Valley at a midnight muster, and I looked out at that group and we had obviously a lot of green uniforms at the border patrol station, but we had eight different color uniforms, including a tremendous contingent of National Guard. That's how we are getting a handle on this crisis, both from a border security perspective and a humanitarian perspective."
Members of the National Guard have been deployed to the border under Operation Guardian Support since April of 2018. Their mission at the border has been focused on aviation, engineering, surveillance, communications, vehicle maintenance, and logistical support.
"They're providing the ability for border patrol agents to get back to interdicting and stopping people from crossing unlawfully by increasing our surveillance capacity, by increasing our administrative capacity at the stations, and really that partnership is essential for us right now," McAleenan continued. "Right now, we are looking at expanding that to help us with some of the transportation and logistics missions that are critical to, again, freeing up agents to do their law enforcement functions effectively as well as increase our overall capacity given the volume challenges we are facing. That will continue to be a focus of mine at the DHS level. I've already met with Secretary Shanahan on these issues and we're expanding our partnership in the coming weeks. I just want to thank you for your support of the National Guard Bureau."
Palazzo has served in the Mississippi National Guard since 1997 and is currently the co-chairman of the National Guard and Reserve Caucus.