Gov. Jerry Brown agreed on Wednesday to expand the California National Guard’s efforts on crime and drug issues that cross the state’s border with Mexico, but insisted troops would not be used to enforce immigration directives from President Donald Trump.
“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,” Brown wrote in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis. “And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”
The decision comes one week after the Trump administration asked governors in border states to provide Guard troops for assistance with the duties of Border Patrol agents. On Saturday, Mattis signed an order to send up to 4,000 Guard troops to the border, but barred them from interacting with migrants detained by the Border Patrol in most circumstances. The president later wrote on Twitter that “We are sealing up our Southern Border.”
But Brown suggested a very limited role for the 400 additional California troops, writing to Nielsen and Mattis that support operations would be focused on “targeting transnational criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers along the border, the coast and throughout the state.”
A spokesman for Brown said the location and assignment of troops would “be dictated by the needs on the ground.”
And the governor insisted in his letter that Trump’s public pronouncements on border threats were misguided — pointing to statistics that show the number of detained immigrants in California is at its lowest point in nearly 50 years.
“Here are the facts: There is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California,” Brown wrote.
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