Texas and Arizona are on board with the president’s controversial decision to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, but California officials are keeping mum — at least for now — on whether they’ll do the same.
“This request — as with others we’ve received from the Department of Homeland Security, including those for additional staffing in 2006 and 2010 — will be promptly reviewed to determine how best we can assist our federal partners,” California National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Keegan told The Sacramento Bee in a statement issued on behalf of Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration. “We look forward to more detail” on funding and the length of the deployment.
Brown’s office deferred questions to the California National Guard.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on Wednesday announced the proposal to send National Guard troops to the border to prevent “unacceptable levels of illegal drugs, dangerous gang activity, transnational criminal organizations, and illegal immigration.”
Reports of the Trump administration enlisting the National Guard to secure the border began surfacing last year after an 11-page White House memo obtained by the Associated Press showed the administration considered mobilizing up to 100,000 troops in 11 states. The White House denied the plans at the time.
Trump reintroduced the idea again this week following reports that a caravan of Central American migrants is making its way through Mexico to get to the U.S.
“President Trump continues to use every cynical political trick in the book to ignite anti-immigrant fervor,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, in a statement. “His needless militarization of the border is motivated purely by political calculation, not our national security.”
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, argued that deploying the guard was totally unnecessary.
“The fact of the matter is, we’re seeing the lowest number of attempts to come into the country illegally since 1971,” Eshoo said in an interview Thursday. “This is not a crisis — but the president is not given to facts.”
The president can “federalize” the National Guard but it would require ordering them into active military service, according to the National Guard. Since that’s not what the White House is proposing in this case, according to Nielsen, the power rests with state governors, who retain power over their respective National Guards.
Republicans in Congress have applauded Trump’s request and the Republican governors in Texas and Arizona have signaled they are ready to deploy their troops. New Mexico’s Republican governor Susana Martinez said it was still evaluating the situation.
But immigration advocates expressed fury over Trump’s decision, saying it will further militarize the border and criminalize immigrants coming to the U.S. — a place once known to welcome many.
“Trump’s plan to send troops to border communities is yet another attempt to demonize immigrants and is utterly out of touch with reality,” said Kamal Essaheb, policy and advocacy director at the National Immigration Law Center in a statement. “It is intended only to distract from real issues facing our country, and to appease Trump, who is increasingly angry that his border wall vanity project has stalled. Every American should be outraged by this wasteful, damaging, and opportunistic use of taxpayer dollars.”
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