Gov. Jan Brewer and her counterparts in California, New Mexico and Texas released a joint statement on April 24 urging congressional leadership to approve funding for additional National Guard troops on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Brewer, along with Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Richardson and Rick Perry, sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader John Boehner, requesting that Congress approve funding that would put additional National Guard troops on the four states' borders with Mexico. Brewer and Perry have already submitted additional requests for additional troop funding for the National Guard Counter-Drug Program, known in Arizona as the Joint Counter-Narcoterrorism Task Force.
In the letter, the governors asked the lawmakers to include the funding in the fiscal 2009 emergency budget supplement, as well as the fiscal 2010 Department of Defense budget.
"By funding the National Guard Counter-Drug Program in the southwest border states, you will allow federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to fulfill the federal government's commitment to reduce the demand for illegal drugs in our nation. We are confident that the flow of illegal drugs and associated violence can be best addressed by increasing the capacity of the counterdrug program," the governors stated in the letter.
The request comes on the heels of Brewer's assertion that the U.S. Department of Defense and President Barack Obama had "effectively denied" her request that the federal government pay for an additional 250 National Guard troops for the task force in Arizona. The Department of Defense has not officially denied the request, but Brewer said she interpreted a letter from the department as a refusal. In the letter, a Department of Defense official outlined recent increases in funding for the Arizona task force. A department spokesman said that the request is still under consideration.
"Arizona communities and citizens continue to be negatively impacted by the illegal drug trade and related border violence," Brewer stated in a press release about the joint letter. "Our citizens must be protected from border violence. Arizona and other U.S.-Mexico border states continue to be confronted by a number of unique and disproportionate challenges relative to other states. Securing our border is a critical federal responsibility, and I am hopeful for strong congressional support."
Perry made a similar request for 1,000 additional National Guard troops on the Texas-Mexico border. A spokeswoman for Perry said the governor is still waiting for an official response on whether the request will be approved or denied.
From 2006-2008, thousands of additional National Guard troops assisted law enforcement agencies on the border during Operation Jump Start.