White House responds to National Guard deployment call
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - After a second day of trying, KGUN9 News has finally obtained a response from the White House on Governor Brewer's request to send the National Guard to patrol Arizona's border. While not directly addressing the deployment question, the statement promised that the administration will continue "monitoring" the situation.
On Wednesday KGUN9's Steve Nunez documented how Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has made five written requests for such a deployment over the last year and a half. The governor said none of those requests elicited a reply. Since the murder of prominent southeast Arizona rancher Robert Krentz on Saturday, many other politicians on both sides of the aisle, along with many ranchers and law enforcement officers, have echoed the governor's request. Nunez tried repeatedly to get a response from the White House to those calls on Wednesday. He spent the day being shuffled from one agency to the next and ended the day with a score of zero.
On Thursday Nunez tried again, retracing his steps and asking the same questions of many of the same people. Among the questions 9 On Your Side wants to know: What is the President's stance on sending troops to the border? Why has his administration simply ignored the requests from Arizona's governor? What does the President have to say to Arizona citizens and politicians who are now renewing that call and asking for his help?
By the end of the business day, Nunez was able to obtain this carefully worded statement from White House spokesman Adam Abrams: "The President is firmly committed to ensuring our borders are secure. It is why the Administration has taken important steps - including deploying additional law enforcement resources to reduce illegal flows across the border and supporting Mexico's efforts against drug trafficking organizations. We are carefully monitoring the situation and will continue to ensure that we are doing everything necessary to keep communities along the Southwest border safe."
The statement sidestepped the question of why the administration has simply ignored Governor Brewer. Adams told KGUN9 News that the statement quoted above is all the White House will have to say on this issue for now.
Calls for National Guard deployment erupted anew over the weekend following the Krentz murder. Someone shot Krentz to death Saturday at his ranch about 25 miles northeast of Douglas. Investigators have no suspects and no confirmed motive, but have said the most likely scenario is that Krentz encountered an illegal border crosser.
Ranchers along the border have been complaining for years that they're overrun with border crossers. On Sunday Cochise County Larry Dever confirmed that burglaries, home invasions and even kidnappings are now a routine occurrence along the border corridor.
In doing research for these stories, KGUN9 News found in its files a 1999 interview from a rancher in that area who lamented that no one was listening. It's the same complaint ranchers have today -- but in the wake of the Krentz murder, ranchers are making the complaint more forcefully. This time, at least some politicians are making a point of listening. On Wednesday night, hundreds of ranchers and area residents turned out in the border town of Portal to meet with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on the issue. Giffords, a Democrat, is among those calling for National Guard deployment.
On Thursday Nunez also pursued the story through the Department of Homeland Security, now headed by former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. While she was governor, Napolitano had a reputation of being fairly accessible to citizens and the media. A department spokesman told Nunez today that if he wanted to question Napolitano about the border security situation in Arizona, he should put in a request, and expect to wait at least a month.