US says Cal­i­for­nia re­jects pro­posed bor­der du­ties for troops


SAN DIEGO — The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said Mon­day that Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Jerry Brown re­jected terms of the Na­tional Guard’s ini­tial de­ploy­ment to the Mex­i­can bor­der, but a state of­fi­cial said noth­ing was de­cided.

“The gover­nor deter­mined that what we asked for is un­sup­port­able, but we will have other it­er­a­tions,” Ron­ald Vi­tiello, U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion’s act­ing deputy com­mis­sioner, told re­porters in Wash­ing­ton.

Brown elicited rare and ef­fu­sive praise from Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump last week for pledg­ing 400 troops to the Guard’s third large-scale bor­der mis­sion since 2006.

But the Demo­cratic gover­nor con­di­tioned his com­mit­ment on his state’s troops hav­ing noth­ing to do with im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment, even in a sup­port­ing role.

Brown’s an­nounce­ment last week did not ad­dress what spe­cific jobs the Cal­i­for­nia Guard would and would not do and or an­swer the thorny ques­tion of how state of­fi­cials would dis­tin­guish work re­lated to im­mi­gra­tion from other du­ties.

Vi­tiello said the gover­nor de­cided Cal­i­for­nia will not ac­cept terms of an ini­tial troop roll­out for the state that was sim­i­lar to plans for the other three bor­der states, Ari­zona, New Mex­ico and Texas.

Ac­cord­ing to two U.S. of­fi­cials, the ini­tial jobs for those troops in­clude fix­ing and main­tain­ing ve­hi­cles, us­ing re­mote-con­trol sur­veil­lance cam­eras to re­port sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity to U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol agents, op­er­at­ing ra­dios and pro­vid­ing “mis­sion sup­port,” which can in­clude cler­i­cal work, buy­ing gas and han­dling pay­rolls. The of­fi­cials spoke to The As­so­ci­ated Press on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Kee­gan said “state of­fi­cials have not re­jected any­thing” since Brown pro­posed a for­mal agree­ment Wed­nes­day with the Home­land Se­cu­rity and De­fense De­part­ments that pro­hibits any in­volve­ment in im­mi­gra­tion.

“The fed­eral gov­ern­ment has not yet re­sponded,” Kee­gan said in an emailed state­ment.

Vi­tiello said the fed­eral gov­ern­ment wanted 237 troops for work in two parts of the state that Cal­i­for­nia “has in­di­cated they will not per­form,” but he em­pha­sized that Cal­i­for­nia may par­tic­i­pate in other ways that must still be worked out.

“We are an­tic­i­pat­ing ad­di­tional re­quire­ments, and we got a sig­nal from Cal­i­for­nia that they are in­ter­ested in im­prov­ing bor­der se­cu­rity,” Vi­tiello said. “So, at some point

that might come to­gether.”

Brown was clear last week that Cal­i­for­nia troops will help go af­ter drugs, guns and crim­i­nal gangs, but not im­mi­grants. Draw­ing that line will likely prove dif­fi­cult be­cause the Bor­der Pa­trol com­bats il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion but also drug smug­gling and other crimes.

Brown’s pledge of 400 troops al­lowed Trump to boast sup­port from all four bor­der-state gover­nors and helped put the pres­i­dent above the lower end of his thresh­old of mar­shal­ing 2,000 to 4,000 troops that he wants to fight il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and drug traf­fick­ing.

The Demo­cratic gover­nor cast his de­ci­sion as a wel­come in­fu­sion of sup­port paid for by the U.S. gov­ern­ment to fight transna­tional crim­i­nal gangs and drug and firearms smug­glers.

Repub­li­can gover­nors from Ari­zona, New Mex­ico and Texas have openly em­braced the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plans and spe­cific jobs for their troops, as Cal­i­for­nia did in pre­vi­ous Guard de­ploy­ments. Texas Na­tional Guard mem­bers are al­ready do­ing ae­rial and ground sur­veil­lance. The Ari­zona Na­tional Guard said last week that its troops will pro­vide air and ground sup­port.

The Guard had about 900 troops work­ing on the bor­der mis­sion Mon­day, a num­ber that changes daily, said Lt. Gen­eral Daniel R. Hokan­son, the Na­tional Guard Bu­reau’s vice chief. Nearly 250 were in Ari­zona, more than 60 in New Mex­ico and about 650 in Texas.

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