Beginning the Border Fence

AP, June 6, 2006

SAN LUIS, Ariz.—Military bulldozers, road graders and other heavy equipment rumbled along the Mexican border early yesterday as more than 50 National Guardsmen from Utah became the first unit to get to work under President George W. Bush’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

The soldiers with the 116th Construction Support Equipment Company will hit work sites by 5:30 a.m. during their two weeks of duty. They will improve a dirt road running parallel to the border, fill in gaps in fortified fencing and run wiring for new lighting to help the Border Patrol spot illegal crossers.

“It’s exciting to do something that’s relevant to the safety of the United States,” said Capt. Talon Greeff, unit commander. The goal is to strengthen the border and free up border agents to catch undocumented immigrants. The guardsmen are unarmed and wearing hardhats instead of Kevlar helmets. They will not perform law enforcement duties.

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Under Bush’s plan, up to 6,000 National Guardsmen will be sent to the four southern border states. Officials say 300 guardsmen from Arizona are expected to begin arriving at the state’s border in mid-June.

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