Cal­i­for­nia says ‘no’ to U.S. plan for troops

Sources say the work is too closely tied to im­mi­gra­tion.

Austin American-Statesman - - NATION & WORLD - By El­liot Spagat

Cal­i­for­nia has re­jected terms of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ini­tial plans for send­ing Na­tional Guard troops to the bor­der be­cause the work is con­sid­ered too closely tied to im­mi­gra­tion, two U.S. of­fi­cials told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

Gov. Jerry 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 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 how state of­fi­cials would dis­tin­guish work re­lated to im­mi­gra­tion from other as­pects of bor­der en­force­ment, such as fight­ing crim­i­nal gangs and drug and gun smug­gling.

Brown’s of­fer of troops for the mis­sion that Trump wants up to 4,000 troops to per­form is still in place. But state au­thor­i­ties told fed­eral of­fi­cials late last week that the Cal­i­for­nia Guard will not per­form tasks in an ini­tial roll­out planned for all four bor­der states, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials with knowl­edge of the talks who spoke con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not au­tho­rized to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

Those jobs in­clude fix­ing and main­tain­ing ve­hi­cles, us­ing re­mote-con­trol sur­veil­lance cam­eras to re­port sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity to U.S. bor- der pa­trol agents, op­er­at­ing ra­dios and pro­vid­ing “mis­sion sup­port,” which can in­clude cler­i­cal work, buy­ing gas and han­dling pay­roll, the of­fi­cials said. Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard mem­bers have done such work in pre­vi­ous bor­der de­ploy­ments.

Talks are on­go­ing and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has yet to pub­licly re­spond to Brown’s de­mand that troops avoid im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment or the state’s po­si­tion on avoid­ing the spe­cific jobs pro­posed, the of­fi­cials said.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment also pro­posed that troops pro­vide air sup­port in a sec­ond phase of the bor­der-wide roll­out, which in­cludes ae­rial sur­veil­lance and fly­ing agents to re­mote lo­ca­tions, but Cal­i­for­nia of­fi­cials have not re­sponded to that re­quest, the of­fi­cials said.

Repub­li­can gover­nors from the three other bor­der states — Ari­zona, New Mex­ico and Texas — have openly em­braced the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s plans and spe­cific tasks for guard mem­bers sent to the bor­der with Mex­ico. Texas Na­tional Guard mem­bers are al­ready do­ing ae­rial and ground sur­veil­lance. Offi- cials with Ari­zona’s Na­tional Guard said last week that its troops will pro­vide air and ground sup­port

Brown’s com­mit­ment 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 as a bor­der se­cu­rity mis­sion to fight il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and drug traf­fick­ing.

Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Kee­gan said Mon­day that the state was await­ing a for­mal re­sponse from the ad­min­is­tra­tion and had no ad­di­tional de­tails be­yond the gover­nor’s pro­posed agree­ment re­leased last week that in­cludes a ban on im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment.

Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the gover­nor, did not im­me­di­ately an­swer de­tailed ques­tions about Cal­i­for­nia’s po­si­tion on spe­cific jobs that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has pro­posed.

Brown last week char­ac­ter­ized his de­ci­sion to con­trib­ute troops as a wel­come infusion of fed­er­ally-funded sup­port to fight transna­tional crim­i­nal gangs and drug and firearms smug­glers.

SINA SCHULDT / DPA / ABACA PRESS

Cal­i­for­nia Gover­nor Jerry Brown’s of­fer of 400 Na­tional Guard troops for the mis­sion that pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump wants is still in place de­spite re­jec­tion of the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s ini­tial plans.

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