California to join Guard border mission, but with conditions
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Jerry Brown accepted President Donald Trump’s call to send the National Guard to the Mexican border, but rejected the White House’s portrait of a burgeoning border crisis and insisted that his troops will have nothing to do with immigration enforcement.
The Democratic governor broke a week of silence Wednesday by agreeing to contribute 400 troops, though not all will be on the border. Brown’s commitment brought the pledges from four states that border Mexico to just shy of the low end of the president’s target of 2,000 to 4,000 troops.
Trump praised Brown on Twitter Thursday, but did not address the governor’s comments on immigration. The president said Brown was “doing the right thing and sending the National Guard to the Border. Thank you Jerry, good move for the safety of our Country!”
Brown cast his decision as a welcome infusion of federal support to fight transnational criminal gangs and drug and firearms smugglers.
“Combating these criminal threats are priorities for all Americans - Republicans and Democrats,” Brown wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Federal law, notably the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, sharply limits military involvement in civilian law enforcement, creating a supporting role for the Guard. The Pentagon said last week that troops won’t perform law enforcement functions or interact with people detained by border authorities without its approval.
Brown released a proposed agreement with the federal government that emphasizes the widely shared understanding of the Guard’s limited role but explicitly bans any support of immigration enforcement. It says troops cannot guard anyone in custody for immigration violations or participate in construction of border barriers.
The White House praised Brown’s decision without addressing his comments on immigration enforcement.