With President Trump’s call for more National Guard troops to be sent to the Mexican border, the state governments of Arizona and Texas have responded by preparing to send 400 troops to aid in combatting illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said about 150 Guard members would deploy next week. And the Texas National Guard said it was already sending Guardsmen to the border, with plans to place 250 troops there in the next 72 hours as an “initial surge,” according to a Guard spokesman. Two helicopters lifted off Friday night from Austin, the state capital, to head south.
The total so far remains well short of the 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard members that Trump told reporters he wants to send. New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s office said Friday that it had not yet deployed any Guard members. The office of California Gov. Jerry Brown did not respond to questions about whether it would deploy troops.
Trump’s proclamation Wednesday directing the use of National Guard troops refers to Title 32, a federal law under which Guard members remain under the command and control of their state’s governor. This leaves open the possibility that California’s Brown could turn him down.
Defense Secretary James Mattis Friday night approved paying for up to 4,000 National Guard personnel from the Pentagon budget through the end of September. A Defense Department memo says the National Guard personnel will not perform law enforcement functions or “interact with migrants or other persons detained” without Mattis’s approval. It said “arming will be limited to circumstances that might require self-defense,” but it did not further define that.
Deployments to the border under former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both occurred under Title 32. Bush sent around 6,000 troops in 2006, and Obama sent 1,200 Guard members in 2010.
Trump’s proclamation blamed “the lawlessness that continues at our southern border.” Trump has suggested he wants to use the military on the border until progress is made on his proposed border wall, which has mostly stalled in Congress.
The Arizona National Guard released a statement that their troops would “provide air, reconnaissance, operational and logistics support and construct border infrastructure.”
The Texas National Guard sent 1000 troops to the border in 2014 by then-Governor Rick Perry to aid in the stopping of illegal immigration.
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