California Rejects Federal Plan For National Guard Duties At The Border

Will Racke | Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

California has rejected a preliminary federal plan for the state’s National Guard troops deployed to the border because it entails too much support for immigration enforcement, according to U.S. officials.

Gov. Jerry Brown surprised many in California April 11 when he authorized 400 National Guard troops to join the 250 already assigned to an ongoing anti-transnational crime program. The additional staffing would allow the Guard to support statewide law enforcement operations, Brown said but emphasized the guardsmen would not detain border jumpers or other illegal aliens.

“This will not be a mission to build a new wall,” Brown said in a statement last week. “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.”

President Donald Trump’s administration’s initial plan for the Guard deployment involves too much immigration-related work, California said, according to The Associated Press, which cited two U.S. officials with knowledge of the discussions. The state informed federal officials that its troops will not be allowed to repair vehicles, operate remote surveillance equipment, operate radios, or provide other “mission support” to border agents.

Brown’s office was noncommittal about how many of the 400 additional guardsmen would be sent to the border, The Daily Caller News Foundation previously reported. Nor has California explained what criteria it would use to distinguish between immigration-related tasks and tracking transnational gangs, human traffickers and drug smugglers.

“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,” a spokesperson for Brown’s office told TheDCNF in a Wednesday email.

Discussions between Sacramento and federal officials hit a roadblock over the weekend, when state authorities refused to agree to let guardsmen do vehicle maintenance and other jobs outlined in an initial federal plan, according to the AP’s report. The other border-state governors have openly embraced the Trump administration’s plan, pledging combined deployment of about 1,600 Guard members along the southern borders of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Even with California’s Guard mobilization, Trump would have fallen short of his proposed deployment of at least 2,000 troops to the border. That’s because California guardsmen are to be sent not only to the border but to the Pacific coast and interior locations “throughout the state,” Brown said in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

National Guard officials said Monday that a total of 900 guardsmen have been deployed to the border so far: 650 from Texas, 250 from Arizona, 60 from New Mexico, and none from California.

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