The deployment of National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border at President Donald Trump’s request was underway Tuesday. National Guard soldiers were seen along the Rio Grande river in south Texas. (April 11)
After days of speculation, California decided Wednesday that it will comply with federal requests to deploy National Guard personnel to the border California shares with Mexico.
The California National Guard will accept federal money to beef up border security, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement published Wednesday morning.
But he attached a disclaimer and made it clear that his acceptance of money didn’t indicate he agreed with the federal government’s agenda on immigration and borders.
“Let’s be crystal clear on the scope of the mission,” he 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.”
The deployment’s purpose is to supplement California’s existing efforts to “combat transnational crime,” Brown said. Already at the state’s 140.4-mile border with Mexico are 55 servicemembers on that mission.
► April 10: Along border, opinions divided over Trump’s order to deploy Guard
► April 10: Thousands of Guard troops begin deploying on Mexican border
► April 10: Laredo braces for influx of National Guard troops in backyard
Brown’s announcement follows similar statements from other border-state governors.
• Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced 225 guard members from his state deployed Monday with more than 100 additional troops sent Tuesday. It has 372.5 miles of border with Mexico.
• New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said more than 80 state National Guard troops would be deployed this week. About 250 troops from her state will ultimately be patrolling the state’s 179.5-mile border with Mexico.
• Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said about 250 Texas National Guards members have been deployed, a force that will be ramped up to about 1,000 from his state in coming weeks, he said. Texas shares 1,241 miles of border with Mexico.
But even though each state that borders Mexico has agreed to deploy its guardsmen, questions remain regarding their purpose and mission.
Border crossings for the past several years have been heading toward historic lows. The number of people caught trying to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border last year was the lowest since 1971, according to the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Across California, 250 members of the state’s National Guard are conducting what the governor called “counterdrug missions,” including the 55 at the border.
► April 6: Texas sending 250 Guard to border; Arizona to deploy 150 next week
► April 5: Mission needs will set border Guard size, Pentagon says
► April 5: Trump wants 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard troops on Mexican border
Those guardsmen perform a variety of tasks, including surveillance support at the San Diego Harbor; repairing roads, fences and culverts; and criminal analysis in cooperation with state and federal law enforcement, according to spokeswoman Lauren Hall of the California Military Department.
“The location of Guard personnel — and number specifically working in support of operations along the border, the coast and elsewhere in the state — will be dictated by the needs on the ground,” said Brown’s press secretary, Evan Westrup.
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