ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico National Guard is planning how to put more troops along the state's border with Mexico to beef up surveillance after Gov. Bill Richardson on Wednesday ordered guardsmen to patrol the area.
The order came days after an Arizona rancher was shot to death. Authorities believe he was killed last weekend by an illegal immigrant who fled to Mexico.
Details are being worked out for how many troops will be sent to the border and where they will be based.
A spokesman for the New Mexico Guard, Lt. Col. Jamison Herrera, said the timeframe and scope of the operation will determine how many soldiers will be activated.
Their focus will be observation posts and using infrared tools that can detect body heat and movement during the night, he said.
A spokesman for Richardson, Gilbert Gallegos, said troops will not be apprehending immigrants.
In 2005, then-President George W. Bush ordered 6,000 National Guard troops to New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and California to help the Border Patrol cut illegal immigration. Troops were deployed in observation posts along the border until Border Patrol ranks were beefed up.
Last August, the four border governors asked congressional leaders to fully fund a long-standing program in which National Guard troops help with anti-drug efforts at the U.S.-Mexico border. They told House and Senate leaders additional manpower was needed as violence associated with drug trafficking intensified.
On Tuesday, Richardson's office said state police and county sheriff's departments have increased patrols along the border and that the U.S. Border Patrol also has boosted its presence.
The guardsmen will work with the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which is coordinating law enforcement along the border.
Also this week, members of New Mexico's congressional delegation asked Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to increase the Border Patrol's presence in the Boot Heel of New Mexico, which is about 10 miles from the spot where the Arizona rancher was killed.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
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