State Sen. Kevin de León is asking Gov. Jerry Brown to pull California National Guard members from the border in response to President Donald Trump's policy to separate children from migrant families.
"This is a shameful chapter in American history and California should have no part in — directly or indirectly — imposing irreparable trauma on thousands of vulnerable young children," de León wrote in a letter to Brown on Monday.
De León's call to end the state's cooperation with the federal government comes amid mounting backlash to a federal policy that the United Nations human rights office called illegal.
The Trump administration has separated more than 2,300 children from their parents at the border under a zero tolerance immigration policy since early May, according to reports. The president has said Democrats in Washington should support GOP immigration reform efforts, including his proposal to build a wall along the border, if they want to address the issue.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
At a news briefing on Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the policy and said previous presidential administrations similarly separated children from immigrant parents under criminal prosecution. The Trump administration has increased the practice by more broadly enforcing immigration violations, she said.
"What has changed is that we no longer exempt entire classes of people who break the law," Nielsen said. "Everyone is subject to prosecution."
Brown sent as many as 400 California National Guard troops to the border with Mexico in April under strict conditions that the state forces would not be involved in immigration enforcement, the construction of a wall or "guard people taken into custody for alleged immigration violations." Brown, who previously called breaking up families "callous" and "very insensitive," deployed the guard after Trump asked the state to help increase security at the border.
"This will not be a mission to build a new wall," Brown said in a letter to Nielsen in April. "It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life."
A spokesman for Brown declined to say whether the governor will comply with de León's request.