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California Gov. Jerry Brown not allowing National Guard to enforce immigration at border

A United States Border Patrol vehicle patrols on watch at a border fence along the a South Texas border in the Rio Grande Valley. (Donna Burton/U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION)
April 16, 2018

California Gov. Jerry Brown said that National Guard troops assigned to the state’s southern border will have nothing to do with immigration enforcement, the Associated Press reported this week. The governor was not specific on what kind of work he would allow federal troops to conduct.

While he initially supported President Trump’s plans to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, now California’s governor has conditioned his support of the federal troops by limiting their involvement with immigration enforcement altogether. Brown has not yet announced the jobs federal troops would be allowed to take part in or how he would distinguish between immigration-related work, and going after criminal gangs and drug and gun smuggles. According to one U.S. official, the California Guard has suggested assigning about 40 troops to marijuana eradication across the state.

California National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Keegan said on Monday that the state was still waiting for a formal response from the Trump Administration on the governor’s proposed ban on federal troops’ immigration work. Keegan had no additional details beyond the governor’s conditions.

At this time, California is the only border state that has expressed any desire to limit federal troops’ duties. Arizona, New Mexico and Texas have all fully embraced the Trump Administration’s plans.

The state informed federal officials that the troops would not take part in fixing and repairing vehicles, operating remote-controlled surveillance equipment or radios, or providing “mission support” such as clerical work, according to officials with knowledge of the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to the Associated Press.

News of federal troops’ limited involvement in border security comes just days after Brown praised President Trump for his efforts in committing troops to the area. The President garnered support from all four border-state governors with his promise of having 2,000 to 4,000 troops deployed in a border security mission to fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

During the initial announcement last week, Brown characterized his decision in supporting Trump’s plan as a welcome integration of federally-funded support that will help combat transitional criminal gangs and drug and firearms smugglers.

“California Governor Jerry Brown is doing the right thing and sending the National Guard to the Border. Thank you Jerry, good move for the safety of our Country!” the President tweeted out last week.

In a joint statement, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said DHS worked closely with border-state governors and identified security vulnerabilities the National Guard could address.

“We appreciate the governors’ support and are dedicated to working with them to secure the national borders,” Mattis and Nielsen said.