Officials: California ‘not participating’ yet in Trump’s border protection push

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Department of Defense (DOD) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officials confirmed Monday that California will not take part in President Trump’s move to send up to 4,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, as the requirements are now written.

Acting CBP Deputy Commissioner Ronald Vitiello told reporters that California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has determined the tasks the federal officials have asked the state’s National Guard to perform at the southern border are “unsupportable.”

“We’ve got a signal from the governor that he’s not participating,” Vitiello told reporters at a media briefing, but added that “there will be other missions that we’re planning for the future state of this operation and so we’ll continue to see if those fit better.”

DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton wrote on Twitter after the briefing that Brown “has stated publicly that he shares our interest in securing our southern border. DHS and our federal partners are committed to working with the Governor to mobilize the California National Guard to assist DHS’ frontline personnel in our vital missions”

{mosads}Robert Salesses, the DOD deputy assistant secretary for homeland defense integration, said California declined a specific request to commit 237 guardsmen to two sectors near the Mexican border, San Diego and El Centro.

“There’s a set of initial responsibilities there. The California National Guard has indicated that they will not perform those missions as we know them to be right now,” Salesses said.

The tasks were operational support responsibilities, including motor transport, maintenance, radio communication, heavy equipment operations, some planning and administrative tasks, and surveillance camera operations.

Salesses added that “we are in a continuing dialogue, discussion” with the state.

The Associated Press reported earlier that California had rejected the federal government’s initial plans for sending guardsmen to the border, as the work was thought to be too closely tied to immigration enforcement.

Brown, last week, wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that his state’s Guard would accept federal funding to add about 400 guardsmen. But he specified that the extra troops “will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”

There are now 900 National Guard troops deployed in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona as part of Trump’s plan for the military to shore up the southern border until his administration builds a border wall.

The Pentagon earlier this month authorized up to 4,000 National Guard troops to be sent to the border as part of the plan.

Vitiello also said that the CBP and the Pentagon are looking for additional tasks, possibly meant for the next phase of the Guard’s role at the border, “to see if a state like California, that doesn’t want to participate in this level one, that maybe they’ll be in the subsequent one.

And a DHS official told The Hill that in the coming days, the department plans to submit another set of requirements. 

Officials have stressed that border security will remain a civilian law enforcement responsibility and that the National Guard will serve in support capacity, not directly involved in an enforcement role.

– This story was updated at 7:07 p.m.

Tags Donald Trump James Mattis Kirstjen Nielsen

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