Citing budget cuts, the Obama administration early next year will cut the number of National Guard troops patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border by at least half, according to a congressman who was briefed on the plan.
The National Guard said an announcement will be made by the White House “in the near future,” but Rep. Duncan Hunter, a California Republican who has learned of the plans, said slashing the deployment in half is the minimum number, and he said it will mean reshuffling the remaining troops along the nearly 2,000-mile border.
In California, that will mean going from 264 guard troops down to just 14, he said.
Mr. Obama deployed 1,200 guard troops to the border in June 2010 in an effort to bolster the U.S. Border Patrol and try to prevent the growing drug violence in Mexico from spilling into the U.S.
He charged the guard with aiding in intelligence gathering and other backup duties, though troops have not been actually enforcing immigration laws.
The troops were scheduled to be drawn down this June, but Mr. Obama extended their deployment, saying there was still work to be done.
The troops were meant to be a bridge to beef up support staffing while the Border Patrol hired more agents under a bill Congress passed early in his term.