Attorney General In Houston to Defend President's Immigration Plan

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was in Houston today, defending President Bush's plan to send thousands of national guard troops to the US-Mexico border to support outnumbered border patrol agents. Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports.

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After meeting with local and state law enforcement officials, Gonzales made it clear that the president's plan is only temporary and is not meant to replace the Border Patrol. He says the troops would work with Border Patrol agents, but would not necessarily directly arrest or deport illegal immigrants.

"What it doesn't mean is that they will be involved in enforcing our immigration laws. The responsibility for enforcing the immigrations laws, patrolling the border, securing our border, lies with the Border Patrol, and that will continue. The National Guard will be there to support and assist the Border Patrol in doing that job."

Gonzales says 6,000 National Guards troops would be rotated into different areas along the US-Mexico Border. He says he believes US immigration laws should be enforced, but says Congress will have to decide to what degree.

"We are a nation of laws. Those laws have to be respected and if laws are not followed, there ought to be consequences. What those consequences will look like ultimately is something that will debated in our Congress."

Gonzales says any immigration reform would require cooperation from local and state officials, but admits some don't agree with the president's plan and would likely not cooperate with an immigration crackdown.

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