White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters on Friday that the approximately 4,000 U.S. National Guard members the Trump administration seeks to send to the border is just “a good start.”
“It’s going to be as many as it takes,” Sanders told reporters when asked about the 4,000.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen made the announcement on Wednesday that the administration would send National Guard troops to the border in coordination with border state governors. Nielsen indicated that troops would be deployed immediately. President Donald Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday that he was looking to send 2,000 to 4,000 troops to the border.
Nielsen compared the deployment to President George W. Bush’s Operation Jump Start, which mobilized up to 6,000 National Guard troops to the border. The operation was initiated in May 2006 and lasted about two years. President Barack Obama launched Operation Phalanx in 2010, sending up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the southern border. Phalanx was a successor operation to Jump Start.
Reporters inquired during Friday’s press conference whether the administration received support from all four border state governors, if troops would still be deployed if California chose not to cooperate, and what was holding California up.
Sanders said they would “absolutely” move forward with deployments to Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona – regardless of whether California participates.
“A couple days ago, the DHS Secretary was saying that it could happen as early as that night,” Sanders clarified on the timing of troop deployment to the southern border, adding that the administration hopes to “have National Guard on the ground as soon as possible.”
“We’re going to continue to work with California, and we’re hopeful that they’ll do the right thing and help protect our borders,” she added.
There wasn’t a definitive time for deployment as of Friday’s press conference.
Asked about the 4,000, Sanders said it would be as many troops “as it takes,” and that the administration is “looking at what that needs to be.”
Sanders concluded, “The President thinks that’s a good first step, to have 2,000 to 4,000. And if we determine that we need more, we’ll make that decision at the time.”
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