The Administration of President Barack Obama will keep a small amount of National Guard troops stationed along the Mexican border for the next year, the Defense Department said on Tuesday.
The Associated Press reported that starting in January, the force of 1,200 National Guard troops at the border will be reduced to less than 300 at a cost of roughly $60 million, noted Paul Stockton, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense.
According to the news outlet, the troops will divert their efforts to the air, as they will switch from patrolling the border on the ground to using aerial surveillance missions in military helicopters and airplanes equipped with high-tech radar and other gear.
“We are basically going from boots on the ground to boots in the air,” David Aguilar, deputy commissioner for Customs and Border Protection, told the AP.
The Hill reported that the reaction in Congress was split along party lines, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) noted that troops should remain until Border Patrol agents have assumed control of a majority of the operations.
“If the Obama Administration’s goal is border security, their actions undermine their objective,” Smith said. “The administration’s decision to draw down the National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border makes an already porous border worse.”