Bush Honors El Paso Volunteer, Tours Border

11-29-05 - Moments after arriving in El Paso for a tour of the Texas-Mexico border Tuesday, President Bush met with a local police volunteer and thanked him for his efforts.

Bush, who launched a Freedom Corps Volunteer Program after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, gave El Paso resident Dale Baugh the Presidential Call To Service Award _ a small lapel pin emblazoned with a gold eagle.

Baugh, a 63-year-old semi-retired software analyst, said he started volunteering with the police department in 2002, helping to maintain the agency's sex-offender registration database and organizing the citizen's police academy courses.

Baugh said meeting Bush was "just like meeting a lost cousin or something."

"He just said, 'Thanks for volunteering, thanks for all the work'," Baugh said of his brief encounter with the president at the foot of Air Force One.

Baugh and said the presidential pin would quickly take the place of one from the police department that adorned his jacket lapel Tuesday.

Bush, who also was greeted Tuesday by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, was in El Paso as part of a southwest swing to promote his immigration policy proposals and to take a brief tour of the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president checked out border security operations in El Paso. He drove on a road along the Rio Grande river and was accompanied by border patrol agents, including some on horseback. Later, he was heading to Colorado for a fund-raiser for Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave.

During a stop in Arizona Monday, Bush sought to mollify conservatives' concerns by talking tough on border security.

For the past year, Bush has been unable to get the House and Senate to sign off on a main part of his immigration proposal _ his guest worker plan for foreigners.

"We're going to secure the border by catching those who enter illegally and hardening the border to prevent illegal crossings. We're going to strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws within our country," Bush said.