New­som to pull the Guard from Mex­ico bor­der

Gov­er­nor’s plan to re­move 360 troops marks a sharp break with his pre­de­ces­sor and Trump’s po­si­tion.

Los Angeles Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Jazmine Ul­loa and Taryn Luna

SACRAMENTO — As a sec­ond par­tial govern­ment shut­down looms in Wash­ing­ton over bor­der dis­cus­sions, Gov. Gavin New­som on Mon­day will or­der the re­moval of roughly 360 Na­tional Guard mem­bers from Cal­i­for­nia’s south­ern boundary with Mex­ico, re­pu­di­at­ing Pres­i­dent Trump’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of a re­cent in­flux of Cen­tral Amer­i­can refugees and mi­grants as a na­tional security cri­sis.

The an­nounce­ment comes just one day be­fore the gov­er­nor de­liv­ers his first State of the State ad­dress Tues­day, set­ting the stage for New­som to counter Trump’s State of the Union ad­dress from last week.

In re­leased ex­cerpts of his speech, New­som says he is giv­ing the Na­tional Guard a new mis­sion so that troops would not take part in the White House’s “po­lit­i­cal the­ater” and in­stead “re­fo­cus on the real threats fac­ing our state.” The gov­er­nor said he would sign a gen­eral or­der to re­de­ploy the troops to sup­port wild­fire preven­tion ef­forts and ex­pand op­er­a­tions to counter drugs and car­tels across Cal­i­for­nia, with a group of forces trained in spot­ting nar­cotics to be sta­tioned at the state’s in­ter­na­tional points of en­try.

“The bor­der ‘emer­gency’ is a man­u­fac­tured cri­sis,” New­som is ex­pected to say Tues­day, ac­cord­ing to pre­pared re­marks pro­vided by the gov­er­nor’s of­fice. “This is our an­swer to the White House: No more di­vi­sion, xeno­pho­bia or na­tivism.”

New­som’s move is an es­ca­la­tion of a long-run­ning bat­tle over im­mi­gra­tion between Cal­i­for­nia and the fed­eral govern­ment, with the

state’s Demo­cratic ma­jori­ties pledg­ing to serve as a buf­fer to Trump’s hard-line rhetoric and poli­cies.

The pres­i­dent has threat­ened to in­voke emer­gency pow­ers to fund con­struc­tion of a wall at the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, a key prom­ise of his 2016 cam­paign. A budget stand­off between Trump and con­gres­sional Democrats over the pro­posal led to a 35-day govern­ment shut­down, the long­est in U.S. his­tory. Parts of the govern­ment could close again if Congress and the White House do not reach a spend­ing deal by Fri­day.

In his ad­dress to the na­tion last week, Trump showed lit­tle will­ing­ness to com­pro­mise, dou­bling down on calls for a wall and de­scrib­ing il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion as a source of crime and a costly bur­den on tax­pay­ers.

“Tol­er­ance for il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is not com­pas­sion­ate — it is cruel,” he said.

New­som is the sec­ond gov­er­nor this month to pull Na­tional Guard troops as­signed to the south­ern bor­der.

Last week, New Mex­ico Gov. Michelle Lu­jan Gr­isham or­dered the re­moval of most her state’s troops just hours be­fore the pres­i­dent’s ad­dress, say­ing she re­jected “the fed­eral con­tention that there ex­ists an over­whelm­ing na­tional security cri­sis at the south­ern bor­der.”

“New Mex­ico will not take part in the pres­i­dent’s cha­rade of bor­der fear-mon­ger­ing by mis­us­ing our dili­gent Na­tional Guard troops,” she said.

Demo­cratic state leg­is­la­tors and civil rights groups ap­plauded New­som’s or­der. Assem­bly­man Miguel San­ti­ago (D-Los An­ge­les) said he and other mem­bers of the Cal­i­for­nia Latino Cau­cus had long wanted the state to take an ag­gres­sive stance against “the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s anti-im­mi­grant and in­hu­mane cru­sade.”

“The only way to beat a bully is to push him back and let him fall,” he said.

Pa­tri­cia Gán­dara, co-direc­tor of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA, com­mended the gov­er­nor’s de­ci­sion, point­ing to the state’s own bat­tles over im­mi­gra­tion and its treat­ment of im­mi­grants — in­clud­ing 1994’s fight over Propo­si­tion 187, which sought to cut off school­ing and health ser­vices for im­mi­grants here il­le­gally.

“I think we grew up and we re­al­ized that im­mi­grants were not a threat,” Gán­dara said. “We’re the fifth-largest econ­omy in the world. And we have the largest per­cent­age of im­mi­grants in our state. How do you rec­on­cile that if you think im­mi­grants are tak­ing our jobs and bring­ing down the econ­omy?”

New­som’s ap­proach is a de­par­ture from that of for­mer Gov. Jerry Brown, who in April granted Trump’s re­quest to send 400 Na­tional Guard troops to the bor­der as other Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can gov­er­nors re­called some troops and equip­ment or re­fused to send any per­son­nel.

Brown said he agreed to the mis­sion af­ter per­suad­ing the fed­eral govern­ment to com­mit to pay­ing for it and kept the guard mem­bers un­der the di­rec­tion of the state. He or­dered that they not en­force im­mi­gra­tion laws or par­tic­i­pate in build­ing a new bor­der bar­rier. But the then-gov­er­nor faced crit­i­cism from state Democrats and im­mi­grant rights groups, who said pro­vid­ing sup­port to the fed­eral govern­ment could free up U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pa­trol of­fi­cers to in­crease de­ten­tions and de­por­ta­tions.

Counter ef­forts against Trump’s im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies in­ten­si­fied last sum­mer af­ter his ad­min­is­tra­tion be­gan sep­a­rat­ing mi­grant fam­i­lies at the bor­der un­der a pol­icy that re­quired all adults who en­ter the coun­try il­le­gally to be pros­e­cuted. At least five gov­er­nors re­called troops or with­held re­sources.

Then-Cal­i­for­nia Se­nate leader Kevin de León and 26 state leg­is­la­tors urged Brown to end the Na­tional Guard agree­ment.

“Now, the Trump Ad­min­is­tra­tion is us­ing the Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard to free up fed­eral re­sources to pur­sue and lock up women and chil­dren flee­ing vi­o­lence, in­stead of fo­cus­ing on se­ri­ous drug car­tel and hu­man traf­fick­ing cases at the bor­der,” De León wrote in a June 2018 let­ter to Brown. The troops have re­mained at the bor­der for 10 months.

Trump later dis­patched more than 5,200 ac­tive-duty mil­i­tary troops to the bor­der in Oc­to­ber be­fore the 2018 midterm elec­tion as a car­a­van of mi­grants ar­rived in the U.S. from Hon­duras, Gu­atemala and El Sal­vador. The fed­eral govern­ment that month also stopped help­ing asy­lum-seek­ing fam­i­lies con­nect with their U.S. spon­sors af­ter be­ing pro­cessed and reg­is­tered at the bor­der.

Thou­sands of fam­i­lies have since been re­leased into the San Diego area with nowhere to go, forc­ing non­prof­its in the re­gion to step up and of­fer tem­po­rary shel­ter.

New­som, who vis­ited one of those shel­ters a month be­fore he was sworn into of­fice, and other Cal­i­for­nia lead­ers have de­scribed what Trump has called a cri­sis at the bor­der as “self-in­duced” by the pres­i­dent.

In his Span­ish-lan­guage re­sponse to the pres­i­dent’s State of the Union ad­dress Tues­day, Cal­i­for­nia Atty. Gen. Xavier Be­cerra warned that he is pre­pared to take Trump to court if he de­clares a na­tional emer­gency to fund a wall at the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der while cut­ting fed­eral funds to fire-dam­aged com­mu­ni­ties in the state.

New­som said Trump’s plans to de­ploy an ad­di­tional 3,750 U.S. mil­i­tary troops to the bor­der was yet an­other rea­son to re­align the pri­or­i­ties of the Na­tional Guard.

New­som’s gen­eral or­der Mon­day will as­sign 110 per­son­nel to sup­port the Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion in pre­par­ing for wild­fire sea­son. An ad­di­tional 100 mem­bers will be de­voted to in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions against drug car­tels, with a small group of those sta­tioned at points of en­try. The gov­er­nor’s of­fice is sep­a­rately re­quest­ing fund­ing from the fed­eral govern­ment to add at least 150 troops to the Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard’s Coun­ter­drug Task Force, said Nathan Click, a spokesman for the gov­er­nor. New­som’s of­fice said the troops will be pulled back no later than March 31.

New­som has sharply con­trasted the dif­fer­ences between state and fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, de­scrib­ing Cal­i­for­nia in his in­au­gu­ral ad­dress as a place that “pro­vides shel­ter to all who need it and sanc­tu­ary to all who seek it — where op­por­tu­nity abounds for all who will work for it.”

Hold­ing his 2-year-old son, Dutch, in his arms, New­som said chil­dren “shouldn’t be ripped away from their par­ents at the bor­der and nor should they be left hun­gry while politi­cians seek to pour bil­lions into a wall that should never be built.”

He has pledged $25 mil­lion in his budget pro­posal to aid lo­cal non­prof­its and com­mu­nity groups pro­vid­ing ser­vices to asy­lum seek­ers. And he has em­braced other ef­forts to help im­mi­grants, in­clud­ing an ex­pan­sion of el­i­gi­bil­ity for Medi-Cal to young adults who are in the U.S. il­le­gally — at a cost some have pegged at about $250 mil­lion per year.

In ex­cerpts of his State of the State ad­dress re­leased Sun­day, New­som says he plans to of­fer a con­trast to the pres­i­dent’s vi­sion of Amer­ica, call­ing it “fun­da­men­tally at odds with Cal­i­for­nia val­ues.”

“We suf­fered enough from that in the [1980s and 1990s] with Props 187 and 227,” the ex­cerpts read. “But then we re­pealed and healed. A quar­ter of a cen­tury later, we’re more united than ever, and we’re not go­ing back.”

John Gib­bins San Diego Union-Tri­bune

NA­TIONAL GUARD mem­bers along the Mex­ico bor­der will be get­ting a new mis­sion from Gov. Gavin New­som on Mon­day to “re­fo­cus on the real threats.”

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