Gov. Brown Rebuffs Trump by Deploying National Guard Statewide

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California National Guard troops patrol a neighborhood burned by wildfires in 2017. Army photo

Responding to President Donald Trump’s call for deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, a defiant Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday he will commit 400 troops to the state’s effort to “combat transnational crime.”

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In a letter to federal authorities, Brown said the California National Guard troops would be added “statewide,” so it was unclear exactly how many of those 400 troops would actually be sent to the border. He said the state’s transnational-crime effort currently includes 250 personnel statewide, including 55 at the border.

“But let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission,” Brown wrote. “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. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”

Republican governors in the border states of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico have already deployed a combined 1,600 National Guard troops to the Mexican border in response to Trump’s call for added staffing. Trump made the request last week, with the federal government paying the cost of the troop deployment. He said the troops were needed because of “lawlessness that continues at our southern border,” and he wanted increased security while he continues his push to build a wall along the entire border.

Until Wednesday, California was the only border state that hadn’t responded to Trump’s request.

In his letter, Brown took issue with suggestions of chaos at the border.

“Here are the facts: There is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California,” he wrote. “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.”

He said the federal government funding of 400 National Guard troops will allow the Guard “to do what it does best: support operations targeting transnational criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers along the border, the coast and throughout the state.”

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“Combating these criminal threats are priorities for all Americans — Republicans and Democrats,” Brown wrote. “That’s why the state and the Guard have long supported this important work and agreed to similar targeted assistance in 2006 under President Bush and in 2010 under President Obama.”

—City News Service

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