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The National Guard troops assigned to the Arizona border will begin to arrive Aug. 1, and the federal government is sending other reinforcements to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and narcotics entering the state, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.

Napolitano is announcing Monday that hundreds of additional Border Patrol agents and customs officers are being deployed to prowl the Arizona outback and operate inspection stations. She said Immigration and Customs Enforcement will open a new office in Ajo. And the Department of Homeland Security is sending a new team to Douglas.

“We are also reassigning major technology assets, including mobile surveillance systems, thermal-imaging binocular units, and trucks equipped with detection scopes, as well as observation and utility aircraft,” Napolitano said in an Arizona Republic guest column.

A government official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to divulge details, said the secretary is assigning more than 300 Border Patrol agents and port inspectors to the Tucson Sector. In addition, 100 ICE personnel will be added statewide. The official said the staffing increases will result from personnel shifts and do not represent new positions.

He said six aircraft and dozens of mobile surveillance, thermal-imaging and other smuggling-detection devices also are being reassigned to the Tucson Sector.

This spring, the Obama administration announced its plan to deploy the National Guard soldiers. During a meeting with Brewer in June, administration officials said up to 1,200 troops would be assigned, with 524 of those operating in Arizona. They will be used primarily in port-screening operations and as criminal analysts.

The beefed-up enforcement is expected to begin just as Arizona implements a controversial new immigration law that is under assault in federal court on constitutionality grounds.

Because Napolitano’s announcement was provided to The Republic under an agreement to not publish a story until Monday, reaction from members of Congress, border sheriffs, immigrant-rights groups and others could not be immediately obtained.

Source: Dennis Wagner for  The Arizona Republic.

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