AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBasketball roundup: Sierra Canyon, Birmingham set to face off in tournament quarterfinalsThe Guard troops would mostly serve two-week stints before rotating out of the assignment, so keeping the force level at 6,000 over the course of a year could require up to 156,000 troops. Still, Bush insisted, “The United States is not going to militarize the southern border.” The president timed his speech hours after the Senate began intense debate on an immigration bill that has been getting increasing attention in a year when all House seats and one-third of Senate seats are up for election. The rare televised, prime-time Oval Office address signified the high stakes for Bush, who has been asking for an immigration overhaul since the 2000 campaign. Bush said the National Guard troops would fill in temporarily while the nation’s Border Patrol force is expanded. He asked Congress to add 6,000 more Border Patrol agents by the end of his presidency and to add 6,700 more beds so illegal immigrants can be detained while waiting for hearings to determine that they can be sent home. The Border Patrol would remain responsible for catching and detaining illegal immigrants, with National Guard troops providing intelligence gathering, surveillance and other administrative support. Yet the National Guard troops would still be armed and authorized to use force to protect themselves, said Bush homeland security adviser Fran Townsend. WASHINGTON – President Bush, trying to build support for a major overhaul of the nation’s tattered immigration laws, said Monday night he would order as many as 6,000 National Guard troops to secure the U.S.-Mexico border and urged Congress to give millions of illegal immigrants a chance at citizenship. “We do not yet have full control of the border and I am determined to change that,” the president said in a 17-minute prime-time address from the Oval Office. Bush gave strong support to a plan that would give many of the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States an eventual path to possible citizenship, a move derided by some conservatives in his own Republican Party as amnesty. “It is neither wise nor realistic to round up millions of people, many with deep roots in the United States, and send them across the border,” he said. “There is a rational middle ground between granting an automatic path to citizenship for every illegal immigrant and a program of mass deportation.” California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he did not believe border protection was an appropriate role for the National Guard. California has thousands of Guards in Iraq and might need them in case of earthquakes, floods or other emergencies, he said. “So if you have 6,000 in Iraq and send another 6,000 to the border, what do we have left?” Schwarzenegger asked. But Republican governor Rick Perry of Texas said he was glad the administration had decided the Guard had a role to play along the border. “We have the ability to multitask,” Perry said. The White House hopes deployments to the border will begin in early June. Many congressional Republicans said they supported Bush’s plan to use National Guard troops at the border. But he ran into criticism from Democrats and some Republicans. “Democrats are willing to support any reasonable plan that will secure our borders, including deploying National Guard troops,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “But Americans don’t want a plan that’s been cobbled together to win political favor. This cannot turn into another long-term military deployment with no clear plan.” Bush called for enactment of a guest worker program to allow immigrants to take low-paying jobs, and he said employers must be held to account for hiring undocumented workers. He said that a tamperproof identification card for workers would “leave employers with no excuse” for violating the law. The White House hopes that the tougher security will be enough to get House conservatives to support the work permits and citizenship proposals that they have been opposed to. A bill that passed the House last year ignored those ideas and instead would increase criminal penalties for illegal immigrants and construct 700 miles of fencing.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!