Gov. Brown: Guard is chomping at the bit ready to go
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday ordered the deployment of up to 400 California National Guard troops to the border with Mexico and elsewhere throughout the state.
The agreement follows a week after Brown agreed to President Donald Trump's request to place additional National Guard members on the border, with the strict condition that California troops would not be involved with immigration enforcement or the construction of a wall.
Despite public criticism from Trump, who wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning that Brown was "trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border," the terms of the deployment have not changed from Brown's original announcement.
The National Guard will assist with fighting "transnational crime," according to the order, including gang activity, human trafficking and gun and drug smuggling. The state has not yet decided how many troops will be stationed at the border or in other locations, including along the California coast, though Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said in an email that their location "will continue to be dictated by the needs on the ground."
Westrup said the order was issued Wednesday after California received a funding commitment for the mission from the federal government. The state expects to begin deploying troops before the end of the month, and the order continues through Sept. 30, though it could be extended.
The full deployment would nearly triple the size of the California National Guard's transnational crime program, which currently has 250 members, about a fifth of whom are at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump earlier this month asked the governors of four southwestern states to call up the National Guard as part of a plan to secure the border against gang activity and illegal immigration. He later told reporters that he wanted up to 4,000 troops on the border, "until such time as we get the wall."
While the Republican governors of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona quickly complied and have already deployed nearly 1,000 troops, fourth-term Democrat Brown negotiated for nearly two weeks with the federal government on the conditions.
"We want to be cooperative," Brown told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, but he disagreed with Trump about what constituted a criminal threat. "Trying to catch some desperate mothers and children or unaccompanied minors coming from Central America, that sounds like something else."
California previously deployed National Guard troops for border operations at the request of President George W. Bush in 2006 and President Barack Obama in 2010.