By Colleen O'Connor
Jerry Brown was elected to be Governor of California. Not the President of the United States.
His responsibility is first, foremost and upmost to the residents of California.
He has demonstrated that understanding in his responses to the scandal of the Orville Dam, which is at risk again this weekend due to an impending atmospheric river hitting northern California.
And also with his quick and massive response to spring and summer wild fires, to the mudslides and flooding of recent months, as well as beefing up the state’s rainy day funds for the unexpected. Dare we think about earthquakes? Or a looming recession?
The risks this state is facing require that he not rush to put our National Guard troops on the Mexican border—just because the President wants to appeal to his base.
As a nation-state, not just a state—and one that is facing more perils than Arizona and New Mexico combined—Brown must first ask for details on Trump’s plans to move the National Guard to the border.
How many? When? For how long? Rules of engagement? Armed or not? And who is going to pay for this hurry-up plan to replace the never-going-to-be-built wall? What are the legal implications and the cost-sharing agreements?
No memorandum of understanding, yet? Just send in the Guard?
Aren’t there other possibilities for better securing the border? Are the Border Patrol agents really that ineffectual?
Perhaps, Governor Brown could make some phone calls to the President of Mexico, leaders of other Central American countries, the Mayor of Tijuana and other Latin leaders to ask and suggest the following.
Before the National Guard is deployed to our border and before Latin America becomes part of the ill-thought-out tariff and sanction wars, and before more fights over sanctuary laws break out, please help with ideas for:
- What more can be done to stop the flow from your side of the border?
- How may we help with screening and processing the migrants and the return to their homeland or safe sanctuary in your or a neighboring country?
- Any ideas—beyond a stronger military presence—to help stem the flows into California?
- Might better intelligence and less of a military presence be more efficient?
- Any coordinated response among all Latin American countries involved—beyond “NO”—that might avoid an unnecessary tragedy?
In short, Brown needs to act like the leader of a nation—not just a state that bows to an unpredictable President’s whims.
California’s population, GDP, innovation, universities and agriculture dwarf most countries in the world.
Thus, California must lead—as a nation-state—on this issue. Just as it has on climate change, environmental protection, open space, coastal access, gun control, and denial of more offshore oil rigs in the Pacific.
So, please, Governor Brown, make the calls. You have the knowledge, history, and goodwill of our neighbors to the south.
Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.
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