California this week became the latest state to comply with President Donald Trump’s request to deploy as many as 4,000 National Guard members to the southern U.S. border.
While the governors of Texas and Arizona quickly signaled their willingness to send hundreds of troops in accordance with the administration’s border security policy, California Gov. Jerry Brown offered some caveats in announcing his decision.
As KCRA reported, Brown wrote a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and Secretary of Defense James Mattis in which he announced that “the California National Guard will accept federal funding to add approximately 400 Guard members statewide” in support of the border mission.
Before Brown announced his decision, Nielsen expressed confidence that he would ultimately agree to support the mission.
Nielsen won't rule out the possibility of using troops from other jurisdictions on the border in California if Gov. Jerry Brown refuses to deploy the California National Guard pic.twitter.com/dEOwlucJQk
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 5, 2018
The Democrat governor noted that the program is “currently staffed by 250 personnel statewide, including 55 at the California border.”
Brown wrote that he supported the mission provided because it was limited in scope to what the National Guard “does best,” tasks he said include “targeting transnational criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers along the border, the coast and throughout the state.”
While he said focusing on these threats “are priorities for all Americans,” he also sought to place limits on further use of the California troops in furtherance of Trump’s larger border plan.
“But let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission,” Brown wrote. “This will not be a mission to build a new wall. It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”
His letter went on to cite an overall decrease in immigrants crossing the southern border into California as a primary reason to limit National Guard troops’ direct involvement in immigration enforcement.
“Overall immigrant apprehensions on the border last year were as low as they’ve been in nearly 50 years (and 85 percent of the apprehensions occurred outside of California),” Brown wrote.
Since revealing their plans earlier this month, the Republican governors of both Arizona and Texas have announced increases in the number of troops they will send to the border.
According to The Hill, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced his state would send at least 1,000 members of the National Guard, an increase from the 250 he initially promised.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey committed a total of 338 troops to the mission this week, including 225 deployed Monday and another 113 the next day.
As part of Trump’s directive, the troops will be largely unarmed and will not come into direct contact with any immigrants or Border Patrol detainees.
New Mexico’s Republican governor similarly accepted the call from the White House, committing a total of 250 troops to the border. Eighty are set to be deployed at some point this week.
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