Guard the Border, But Don’t Look Across It

NGAUS Washington Report
May 15, 2018

The National Guard troops now on the border with Mexico are forbidden from using their surveillance gear to look across the border, the New York Times reports.

“We are not doing foreign-intelligence collection on the border,” Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, a Defense Department spokesman told the newspaper.

The newspaper described the array of high-tech equipment used by the Guard on the border in Texas, but noted that they are prohibited from using it to gaze across the Rio Grande. This includes the 24-hour surveillance video from camera towers, helium balloons and other equipment.

They are, however, allowed to look across the border with their eyes. Rules limiting electronic surveillance restrict their efforts with the gear.

Davis added that the 800 troops on duty in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas are on Title 32 orders, which does not allow foreign-intelligence collection.

“Guardsmen in Title 32 status do not have the authority nor is that the intent,” he said. “At this time, there is no effort to update the policy.”

Retired Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, the former chief of the National Guard Bureau, told the newspaper that the rules are not cumbersome for Guardsmen.

“National Guard forces, when operating under Title 32, are under the command of the governor,” he explained. “Their authorities cannot exceed those of the constitution of the state where they are performing their duties.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents say the Guard has helped them apprehend more than 1,600 people attempting to enter the United States illegally and seize more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

The Guardsmen have been providing air support, repairing roads and monitoring activity on the U.S. side of the border. More troops are expected to join the mission in the near future.