California Gov. Jerry Brown insisted that his troops will have nothing to do with immigration enforcement
By Kathleen Ronayne and Elliot Spagat
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California Gov. Jerry Brown
accepted President Donald Trump's call to send the National Guard to the
Mexican border, but rejected the White House's portrait of a burgeoning
border crisis and insisted that his troops will have nothing to do with
The Democratic governor broke a week of
silence Wednesday by agreeing to contribute 400 troops, though not all
will be on the border. Brown's commitment brought the pledges from four
states that border Mexico to just shy of the low end of the president's
target of 2,000 to 4,000 troops.
Trump praised Brown on Twitter Thursday, but did not address the
governor's comments on immigration. The president said Brown was "doing
the right thing and sending the National Guard to the Border. Thank you
Jerry, good move for the safety of our Country!"
Brown cast his
decision as a welcome infusion of federal support to fight transnational
criminal gangs and drug and firearms smugglers.
criminal threats are priorities for all Americans - Republicans and
Democrats," Brown wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis
and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
notably the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, sharply limits military
involvement in civilian law enforcement, creating a supporting role for
the Guard. The Pentagon said last week that troops won't perform law
enforcement functions or interact with people detained by border
authorities without its approval.
Brown released a proposed
agreement with the federal government that emphasizes the widely shared
understanding of the Guard's limited role but explicitly bans any
support of immigration enforcement. It says troops cannot guard anyone
in custody for immigration violations or participate in construction of
The White House praised Brown's decision without addressing his comments on immigration enforcement.
also glad to see California Gov. Jerry Brown work with the
administration and send members of the National Guard to help secure the
southern border," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Reaction in California was limited, with few of Brown's allies or opponents weighing in.
Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and author of
California's so-called sanctuary state law, said Guard deployment was
unnecessary and not a good use of resources. But he said more can be
done to combat border crime and that he appreciated Brown's design of "a
clear and limited mission focused on real public safety threats."
am confident Governor Brown will not use our National Guard to harass
or tear apart immigrant families in California," he said in a statement.
Stutzman, who advised former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger,
praised the decision on Twitter, calling Brown's decision to accept
money for using the Guard to fight drugs and human trafficking "good
Immigration advocacy groups were critical, saying
Brown's support was a boost for Trump's agenda. Lillian Serrano, chair
of the San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium, acknowledged the
governor's proposed limits on the Guard's role but said his decision
reflected "flawed logic that we need more boots on the ground."
Rios, director for the American Friends Service Committee's U.S.-Mexico
border program in San Diego, questioned why Brown would send troops
while rejecting Trump's premise that they are needed to help stop
"If he's in disagreement with Donald Trump
about the justifications for having the National Guard on the border,
then why would he accept it?" he said.
Unlike Republican governors
in other border states, Brown disagreed with Trump's portrayal of a
border spiraling out of control, noting that Border Patrol arrests fell
to the lowest level last year since 1971 and that California accounted
for only 15 percent of the agency's arrests on the Mexican border.
"Here are the facts: there is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California," Brown wrote the Trump Cabinet members.
contrast, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who is contributing 1,000
troops, embraced Trump's mission the day it was announced, saying it
would promote the rule of law and "help ensure we are doing everything
we can to stem the flow of illegal immigration."
California's troops would join an existing program to combat
transnational drug crime, firearms smuggling and human trafficking.
About 250 California National Guard troops are already participating,
including 55 at the border.
The new contingent of California Guard
members being deployed could be posted at the border, the coast and
elsewhere statewide, Brown said.
California deployed troops to the border under former Presidents George W. Bush in 2006 and Barack Obama in 2010.