Wiregrass Reaction to President's Speech

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Just one day after President Bush's nationwide address over immigration issues, public opinion appears to be split over immigration reform, and plans to militarize our country's southern border.

This split is not only evident across the nation, but also right here in the Wiregrass and despite the differences in opinions, one thing is certain.

The deployment of thousands of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border could spell trouble for Alabama in the future.

There are over 12 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.

During a nationwide address, President Bush confirmed his support for a guest worker program allowing these individuals to stay in the U.S and continue working. However not without being punished for breaking the law.

This kind of amnesty is being welcomed by illegal immigrants here in the Wiregrass. The plan is getting mixed reviews from other residents in our community.

"I think they should be able to stay because of the fact that they are coming to work, and I think circumstances over where they live are obviously very harsh circumstances, or they wouldn't be crossing the border illegally," said Lora Moulton

"They got families they need to feed, just like we got families we need to feed, and I think we just need to let them work," said Yvonne Parks

Then there is the plan to militarize the U.S.-Mexican border, with six-thousand National Guard troops. But the plan is getting some stark criticism.

“I think there needs to be more money for the border patrol, and a longer period of enrollment on the border. Don't send the guard down there without enforcement provisions," said Larry Siegel

"We have troops everywhere, why do we need them at the border... don't we have border patrol for that,” said Lee Norton

The 186th engineering company in Dothan will be sent to Iraq in July of this year. And although there are no immediate plans to send any Alabama National Guardsmen to the southern border, if they were to be sent in the near future, it would affect the guards’ ability to respond during a natural disaster.

"Most of our national disasters are on the coast, so this would cut down our response time greatly," said Master Sergeant Bowden

These new border troops will not have the authority to arrest illegal aliens but they will help with surveillance and logistics while other border patrol agents are hired and trained.

Officials say that the 6,000 troops that will be deployed to the border will come from the four Border States Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

They have not said whether troop tours will change in the future, or if guard troops from other states will be sent in to help.