The White House has also come under fire by Republicans for not being aggressive enough in dealing with the crime and violence in Mexico that's spilling into the United States.
The president today deployed 1,200 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to help Customs and Border personnel and providing an extra set of eyes at observation posts.
But Republicans slammed the figure, saying that a lot more will be needed to stem the tide. Others say it's merely a symbolic gesture that's unlikely to produce substantial results.
"Ultimately, this was a political move. He would not have done this but for what happened with Arizona," Dowd said. "Symbolism is very important, if you show up at disasters, it's important. There is symbolism here. I don't think it's going to have any substantive effect but it s a political problem when the majority of the country supports what Arizona did."
Obama will request $500 million from Congress this week to authorize the troop deployment.
White House officials said the move was not a response to the Arizona immigration law, but rather an effort to combat to the Mexican crime wave spilling across the border into the U.S., though they acknowledged efforts to stem Mexican drug trafficking would likely also lead to a reduction in illegal immigration.
"This is the latest step in an ongoing effort over the course of the past 16 months to increase pressure on transnational criminal organizations and illicit flows in both directions to ensure the Federal government fulfills its responsibility to secure the Southwest border," an administration official said.
Congress this week will debate the defense spending bill, which includes a provision to send 6,000 National Guard troops to the border. White House officials said that the president acted this week specifically because of legislative considerations, and the president wanted to head off at the pass a measure to authorize sending 6,000 troops, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates doesn't support.
Arizona's GOP Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl blasted the number, saying that the president is not sending enough troops.
"We believe it would be very helpful if the president could visit the Mexico-U.S. border so he could see firsthand the threat to the safety of Americans from illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and human smuggling," the two said in a joint statement Tuesday. "He could also personally witness the need for additional personnel, technology and infrastructure necessary to secure to the border."
The 1,200 National Guardsmen will be operating in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.