Trump Ends Brief Truce With California Over Sending Troops to Border

Trump says California governor not watching out for 'safety and security' of California residents

Mexico wall
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April 17, 2018

President Trump on Tuesday ended his brief détente with Gov. Jerry Brown over sending National Guard troops to the border, slamming Brown's attempt to limit what the troops would do as a sign that he and other California Democrats aren't interested in the "safety and security" of its residents.

Brown late last week said he would agree to send 400 National Guard troops to the border but conditioned his commitment on his state's troops having nothing to do with immigration enforcement, even in a supporting role.

The Trump administration and Brown have since been negotiating exactly what role the troops would serve. Those negotiations hit a snag Monday with administration officials arguing that California officials were insisting on severe limitations to the tasks that the troops would be allowed to perform.

"Looks like Jerry Brown and California are not looking for safety and security along their very porous Border," Trump tweeted Tuesday. "He cannot come to terms for the National Guard to patrol and protect the Border. The high crime rate will only get higher. Much wanted Wall in San Diego already started!"

Brown, who spoke at the National Press Club in Washington on Tuesday, said the negotiations are ongoing and gave no indication that he had reversed course and decided against sending the troops.

"I am concerned about our borders. I am concerned about the shipment of drugs, not only over land, but on the shores of California, and human trafficking," he said. "And I'm concerned about the guns going south from Arizona, California, and Texas."

California already has 50 guardsmen near the Southern border and nearly 200 Guardsmen through the state working on these issues, he said.

"It's a very logical next step to add a couple of hundred more or more than that," said. "The Guard is chomping at the bit, ready to go, so I think we'll get there."

In agreeing to send the troops last week, Brown said they could help target drugs, guns, and criminal gangs, but play no role in illegal immigrant apprehensions.

Trump administration officials have previously said the troops would not be involved in any type of enforcement actions and would play only supportive roles.

Those jobs include fixing and maintaining vehicles, using remote-control surveillance cameras to report suspicious activity to U.S. Border Patrol agents, repairing the border wall, and possibly clerical duties.

Providing these services would help allow for more border agents to work on "frontline apprehension roles," an administration official told reporters in early April.

The George W. Bush administration deployed National Guard troops to the border in similarly supportive roles for two years in 2006 to allow the training of new border agents.

Republican governors of the three other border states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, all agreed to send Guard troops in supportive roles.

The exact disputes between Brown and the Trump administration remain unclear. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense Integration Robert Salesses on Monday said the administration wants 237 troops for work in two parts of the state that California "has indicated they will not perform."

Ronald Vitiello, U.S. Customs and Border Protection's acting deputy commissioner, indicated that talks had stalled but had not broken down completely.

"The governor determined that what we asked for is unsupportable, but we will have other iterations," Vitiello told reporters Monday.