Democratic California Rep. Ted Lieu said in a tweet earlier in April that governors may legally refuse President Donald Trump’s request to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border – but can they?
Lieu is in fact correct. U.S. Presidents have two powers they can use to command the National Guard: Title 10, and Title 32. Title 10 of the U.S. Code federalizes the Guard and gives the president full control of the troops. Federalized Guard troops may be deployed anywhere in the world.
Under Title 32, Guard troops may be used within the continental U.S. to perform homeland defense activities. The federal government pays for the costs of the operation, but the governor retains ultimate command and control of the troops.
Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama used Title 32 when they ordered the Guard to the border. Trump has done the same thing – but that means governors can say no.
Most states on the southern border were on board, with the governors of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona immediately offering their support. Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown lagged behind, however, only offering his support weeks after his counterparts.
California has a history of pushing back against efforts to combat illegal immigration. Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declined Bush’s request for troops in 2006, claiming it would leave the rest of the state vulnerable in the event of a natural disaster.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on “Fox and Friends” Thursday that the Guard troops would act in support functions to “free up the border patrol to do what they do best,” similar to the operations in 2006 and 2010 when the forces operated under limited rules of engagement.
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