In response to a request from the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security, Governor Tim Pawlenty and Major General Larry Shellito, the Adjutant General of Minnesota, announced today that the Minnesota National Guard will participate in a mission to counter illegal immigration by helping to secure the United States – Mexico border. Under “Operation Jump Start,” National Guard troops from around the country will be used as temporary support for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“Illegal immigration is nearly out of control,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Our current level of border enforcement is embarrassing and this operation will help improve our nation’s security and prevent illegal immigration. Securing America’s borders is an urgent national priority and we must all do our part.”
The Governor indicated that only National Guard members who volunteer or would otherwise be participating in regular training missions will be utilized for this operation.
As part of Operation Jump Start, the Minnesota soldiers and airmen will deploy to New Mexico for up to six months on a voluntary basis. The overall operation could last up to two years, until the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency can complete the hiring of an additional 6,000 border patrol agents. Since the call for help was issued, approximately 200 Minnesota Army and Air Guard members have volunteered to deploy to New Mexico to help protect America’s southern border.
Throughout this mission, Governor Pawlenty will maintain administrative command and control of the Minnesota National Guard troops stationed in New Mexico. The mission in New Mexico will be scaled back or terminated if needs in Minnesota warrant their return.
After in-processing in Minnesota, the troops will assemble with National Guard troops from across the nation who will be deployed in southern Border States to support the Customs and Border Protection Agency. Minnesota National Guard troops will help in three main areas - entry identification, engineering support, and logistical support. Entry identification teams will monitor the border and report activities to border agents and local law enforcement. Engineering support consists of building and repairing roads, barriers, fences, and facilities. Logistical support will include maintaining the troops and equipment in support of the Border Patrol’s mission.
“Minnesota has the troops, equipment, and wealth of experience necessary to help support the Customs and Border Protection Agency,” Adjutant General Shellito said. “With this temporary mission, there is no degradation to our Guard’s capacity to deal with Minnesota State homeland security and natural disaster needs, or to support United States military missions overseas.”
Minnesota National Guard forces are expected to arrive in New Mexico in mid-July. The initial group of 200 soldiers and Airmen has volunteered to serve on this mission and are expected to be on duty for six months. Future rotations of Minnesota National Guard troops will be staffed by a combination of additional volunteers and units conducting scheduled Annual Training missions.
Under Operation Jump Start, California, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, have signed Memorandums of Agreement (MOA’s) with the Department of Defense for help with border security using their own National Guard troops in addition to others from around the country. According to the National Guard Bureau, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Montana, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin have already signed onto the agreement and have begun sending troops. As many as 12 additional states have indicated they will participate and are expected to join the mission in the near future. The National Guard of five states are currently excused from contributing to Operation Jump Start due to their efforts with hurricane preparation and disaster relief.
The federal government will pay for all expenses associated with this mission.