California Governor Jerry Brown is still silent after Secretary of Defense Jim “Mad Dog” Mattis signed the order to deploy up to 4,000 National Guardsmen to the Mexican border.
President Donald J. Trump’s April 4 proclamation to deploy the National Guard to enhance U.S. Customs and Border Protection support along the southern U.S. border “was made with the affected governors’ approval”, according to the Defense Department’s website. President Trump’s justification for his action was due to a “drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border” that he says is threatening national security.
Trump did not make the demand under Title 10 of the U.S. Code, which would have given the Secretary of Defense the authority to “federalize” any National Guard units for full-time duty. But Trump instead made a Title 32 voluntary homeland defense call-up that reimburses state deployment costs and leaves command under governors.
Following the official order signing, Gen. Mattis and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Kirstjen M. Nielsen made a joint statement to the effect that the Trump administration intended to work closely with border-state governors to identified security vulnerabilities that the National Guard units could best address in a deployment through September 30.
National Guard units will provide aviation, engineering, surveillance, communications, vehicle maintenance, and logistical support. National Guardsmen will not perform law enforcement functions or interact with migrants detained by DHS or other persons without the direct approval of Gen. Mattis. The carrying of weapons by Guardsmen will be limited to situations requiring self-defense, according to the memo.
Mattis and Nielsen stated that the administration is “using every lever of power to support the men and women of law enforcement defending our nation’s sovereignty and protecting the American people.” DoD and DHS leadership added: “We appreciate the governors’ support and are dedicated to working with them to secure the national borders.”
California Gov. Brown’s press secretary acknowledged that the governor has had several personal phone calls with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other federal law enforcement officials, but referred all questions California National Guard.
California National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Keegan told Capital Public Radio that the state participated in the 2006 deployment under President George W. Bush and the 2010 deployment under President Barack Obama; and that the state currently has 56 California National Guardsmen imbedded in a separate drug control mission with the U.S. Border Patrol. Keegan stated that the Guard will promptly review the funding and duration of the deployment, “to determine how best we can assist our federal partners.”
National Border Patrol Council union president Brandon Judd told the Los Angeles Times that with only about 10,000 agents to watch 1,954 miles of the Mexican border, “We have so many agents working in permanent surveillance duties, in control rooms, watching cameras.” Judd argues Guard deployment will free resources to put agents in the field to “increase the certainty of apprehension, which will allow us to target the criminal cartels.”