CNN's Pentagon correspondent said minutes ago that the news agency has learned President George W. Bush will deploy some 5,000 National Guard troops to the Mexican border of the United States to support Border Patrol efforts against illegal immigration.
Earlier, reports from several news agencies indicated thwet troops will not be involved in arresting, detaining, transporting or housing illegals captured under the U.S. Border Patrol's interdiction effort, which resulted in more than 250,000 arrests last year.
It remains unclear whether Mexico will also send troops to the border to support its citizens as they attempt to cross the frontier. In a 30-minute phone call last night, President Bush and Mexican President Vicente Fox discussed the Presdent's plan to deploy the National Guard, and President Fox reportedly expressed his concern about it.
California's Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has also asked the President not to deply the troops, and Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter and Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel and other have also expressed reservations about the plan due to what they say is an overstretched National Guard. Meanwhile, the President's approval rating has fallen below 30 percent for the first time in his presidency, but mnay White House insiders expect his speech tonight will lend a strong boost to the falling approval numbers.
The President speaks to the nation at 8pm ET tonight, and has asked for time from all three networks. It will be carried live in Oprah's time slot on NBC and also on CNN, Fox News and other stations. Commentator Lou Dobbs, who has singelhandedly turned the issue into a national emergency, also plans a special report on CNN at 8:30pm ET.