San Francisco, April 12 (IANS) California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday has agreed to deploy National Guard troops along the state’s border with Mexico, but insisted that personnel will not be used to support any immigration enforcement, the media reported.
Brown’s announcement on Wednesday comes less than a week after President Donald Trump called for National Guard troops deployment along the US-Mexico border until a border wall is built, reports Politico news.
The Republican governors of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico have already committed to participate.
The three states will initially mobilise some 1,600 troops as part of Trump’s decision to provide military support to the US Border Patrol in order to tackle the increase in irregular immigration.
But Brown, whose state has clashed repeatedly with Trump over immigration and other issues, was far more cautious in his response.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Defence Secretary Jim Mattis, the four-term Democrat said California “will accept federal funding to add approximately 400 Guard members statewide to supplement the staffing of its ongoing programme to combat transnational crime” but the personnel will not be used to enforce immigration laws.
“But let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission. 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,” the Governor wrote.
Brown noted that California has previously supported “similar targeted assistance in 2006 under President Bush and in 2010 under President Obama”.
He called the work “important” and said that of about 250 California Guard members currently staffing a programme to combat transnational crime, 55 are at the California-Mexico border, Politico news reported.
“Your funding for new staffing 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,” Brown wrote.
“Combating these criminal threats are priorities for all Americans, Republicans and Democrats.”
In response to Brown’s announcement, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Wednesday’s White House press briefing said: “We’re also glad to see California Governor Jerry Brown work with the administration and send members of the National Guard to help secure the southern border.”
Last week, Trump said he wanted to send between 2,000 and 4,000 troops to protect the border, while the Pentagon authorised the use of the higher limit of that range on April 6.
The US and Mexico share a 3,111-km long border stretching from east to west, passing four US states: Texas (1,997 km), New Mexico (289 km), Arizona (599 km) and California (226 km).