Video: Border reaction

By George Lewis Correspondent
NBC News
updated 5/16/2006 7:35:27 PM ET 2006-05-16T23:35:27

Talk radio was full of commentary about President Bush's Monday night speech, much of it negative.

But in the place that's seen the most illegal immigration — Arizona — the governor, a Democrat, praised the president's approach. Especially the idea of using National Guard troops to aid the Border Patrol.

"For Arizona, what does it mean? Hopefully, more federal law enforcement resources, more technology, more manpower," Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano says.

The Border Patrol has 10,060 officers. Last year, they apprehended 1.17 million illegal immigrants. The busiest Border Patrol sector is in Tucson, where just over 2,700 personnel made 435,000 of those arrests.

The head of the union representing Border Patrol officers says President Bush's call for a legal path to citizenship for some illegal immigrants is actually leading more of them to cross the border.

"I think we are about to see a train wreck," says T.J. Bonner of the National Border Patrol Council. "It's apparent that the Senate is about to pass a bill that contains a lot of provisions that will grant amnesty, and there is no other way to put it."

There was another kind of wreck last night near Holtville, Calif. A van packed with 27 illegal immigrants hit a highway divider, killing two during a Border Patrol pursuit.

Pedro Ros, an immigration rights activist with The American Friends Service Committee, says more than 4,000 illegal immigrants have been killed trying to cross the border in the last dozen years.

And all sides really question whether Washington can make the border safer and more secure.

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