Thursday, May 18, 2006

How about fully funding the Border Patrol?

George W. Bush proposes to use National Guard troops to help patrol the U.S./Mexican border. The idea is misguided and downright dangerous. There is a reason that our forefathers provided for a strict separation (posse comitatus) between the military and civilian law enforcement: when that distinction is blurred, democracy itself is threatened.

The President makes this proposal to militarize our border despite having refused to fully fund the civilian Border Patrol. It is ridiculous to send the National Guard in place of proper funding for the Border Patrol, especially since the federal government must pay the entire cost of using the Guard for such a purpose: protecting the national border is not a state-level responsibility, but rather a part of Homeland Security, the bumbling fiefdom of Michael Chertoff. More to the point, though, is it really worth sacrificing the second-longest non-militarized border in the world just for a cheesy political stunt motivated mostly by the "emergency" of disastrously low poll numbers?

Saddam Hussein blurred the line between the military and the police. Do we want to make the same mistake?

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P.S. Posse comitatus is Latin for "the power of the county." In the post-Civil-War South, federal marshals called on the Army to enforce Reconstruction policies, leading to the prohibition that has stood for 128 years.