California Gov. Jerry Brown has agreed to send 400 National Guard troops to the United States-Mexico border at President Donald Trump’s request; however, he made it clear they will be focusing on combating drug crime – not immigration.
The liberal Democrat explained he’ll be stationing the troops not just at the border but along the coast or elsewhere statewide, noting that the move was aimed at fighting transnational criminal gangs and drug and firearms smugglers.
“Let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission,” he wrote in a letter addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Defense Secretary James Mattis. “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,” he continued. “And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”
California responds pic.twitter.com/8HCXoGXc87
— Jerry Brown (@JerryBrownGov) April 11, 2018
Brown’s words come in response to Trump’s memorandum last week ordering Homeland Security and the Pentagon to come up with a strategy to tighten security along America’s southern border.
“The security of the United States is imperiled by a drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border,” the memo states. “The combination of illegal drugs, dangerous gang activity, and extensive illegal immigration not only threatens our safety but also undermines the rule of law.”
But Brown dismissed the notion that the border was under any real threat from an influx of immigrants.
“Here are the facts,” he wrote. “There is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California. Overall immigrant apprehensions on the border last year were as low as they’ve been in nearly 50 years (and 85 percent of the apprehensions occurred outside of California).”
Critics, however, were not happy with his decision, saying Brown sending troops just boosted Trump’s agenda.
“If he’s in disagreement with Donald Trump about the justifications for having the National Guard on the border, then why would he accept it?” asked Pedro Rios, director for the American Friends Service Committee’s US-Mexico border program in San Diego.
This is not the first time California has taken such action. The state deployed troops to the border under Presidents George W. Bush in 2006 and Barack Obama in 2010.