By Michael Davis
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Ed Bryant said Tuesday he supports temporarily changing the law to allow active-duty military troops to patrol the country’s Southern border with Mexico.
If we have to take some troops out of the Pacific or out of Europe to do that, I think that can be done, Mr. Bryant, a former congressman, told a Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board.
Mr. Bryant said he backs putting active military troops on the border in a limited fashion.
President Bush has called for roughly 6,000 U.S. National Guard troops to patrol the border in an attempt to curb illegal immigrants from entering the country, according to the Associated Press. While he is hopeful about the plan, Mr. Bryant said he is not sure the movement of U.S. National Guard troops to the border will stop the bleeding.
The former congressman is facing Bob Corker, former mayor of Chattanooga, and Van Hilleary, another former U.S. House member, in the Aug. 3 GOP primary. The winner is expected to face U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn., in the Nov. 7 general election.
Corker political director Todd Womack said in a statement that Bob Corker believes that using the National Guard as a stop-gap measure to secure our Southern border until more Border Patrol agents can be hired and trained is the right thing to do for now.
In another statement, Mr. Womack said Bob has tremendous confidence in the National Guard, but if their temporary intervention does not adequately stop the flow of illegal immigrants coming into the country, he would consider other options to effectively secure the border.
Hilleary campaign manager Jennifer Coxe said in an interview that her candidate has long supported the use of active-duty troops to man the border.
There’s no part of the federal government that’s better equipped to secure the border than the military, Ms. Coxe said.
Ms. Coxe said Mr. Hilleary believes the use of National Guard troops along the Southern border is a good gesture but not enough to address the issue of illegal aliens crossing into America.
Ford campaign spokeswoman Carol Andrews said in a statement that Rep. Ford supports building a strong and trained border patrol force.
We have 5,700 miles of border that is not secure now, she said. It may take a temporary use of active-duty forces to enforce the law at our borders.
Early voting for the Aug. 3 primaries begins July 14.
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