Gover­nor will pull troops out of bor­der

Na­tional Guard must fight ‘real threats,’ New­som says

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - By Alexei Kos­eff

SACRA­MENTO — Gov. Gavin New­som will with­draw most of the Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard troops who were de­ployed to the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der last year, say­ing the state needs them to pre­pare for wildfires and fight drug traf­fick­ing rather than bol­ster Pres­i­dent Trump’s re­sponse to a “man­u­fac­tured” im­mi­gra­tion cri­sis.

New­som said he will re­scind au­tho­riza­tion Mon­day for the de­ploy­ment of the Guard troops, which Trump re­quested and then-Gov. Jerry Brown ap­proved in April. Brown ex­tended the de­ploy­ment in Septem­ber, and the state’s 360 Guard troops were sched­uled to stay on the bor­der through March.

Brown de­clared last year that “Cal­i­for­nia

Na­tional Guard will not be en­forc­ing fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion laws.” New­som’s of­fice, how­ever, said the troops were op­er­at­ing cam­eras along the bor­der, do­ing ve­hi­cle main­te­nance and per­form­ing other jobs that would nor­mally fall to fed­eral agen­cies, free­ing up re­sources for U.S. Bor­der Pa­trol and Im­mi­gra­tion and Cus­toms En­force­ment agents.

Voice of San Diego, an on­line news out­let, re­ported in Au­gust that in at least two cases, Bor­der Pa­trol agents ap­pre­hended im­mi­grants cross­ing into the state il­le­gally af­ter be­ing no­ti­fied by Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard troops.

New­som’s with­drawal or­der comes one day be­fore he de­liv­ers his first State of the State ad­dress at 11 a.m. Tues­day. Ac­cord­ing to ex­cerpts of the speech re­leased by his of­fice, the gover­nor will say that “the bor­der ‘emer­gency’ is a man­u­fac­tured cri­sis. And Cal­i­for­nia will not be part of this po­lit­i­cal the­ater.

“Which is why I have given the Na­tional Guard a new mis­sion. They will re­fo­cus on the real threats fac­ing our state.”

Un­der the new or­der New­som in­tends to sign, 110 Guard troops now at the bor­der will be re­de­ployed to help the Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Forestry and Fire Pro­tec­tion with fire pre­ven­tion ef­forts, and 100 troops will con­duct an­tidrug traf­fick­ing in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions, in­clud­ing screen­ing cargo at points of en­try.

New­som will also re­quest fund­ing from the U.S. De­fense Depart­ment to ex­pand the state Guard’s an­tidrug task force by at least 150 mem­bers.

“This is our an­swer to the White House: No more di­vi­sion, xeno­pho­bia or na­tivism,” New­som plans to say in his State of the State speech.

Trump orig­i­nally asked Cal­i­for­nia and other bor­der states to send thou­sands of Na­tional Guard troops to the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der in April to stop a caravan of mi­grants that was headed north from Cen­tral Amer­ica. Brown ul­ti­mately agreed to de­ploy 400 troops, though he said it would be only to fight crim­i­nal gangs, hu­man traf­fick­ing, and firearms and drug smug­gling. “This will not be a mis­sion to build a new wall. It will not be a mis­sion to round up women and chil­dren or de­tain peo­ple es­cap­ing vi­o­lence and seek­ing a bet­ter life,” Brown said at the time.

As a can­di­date for gover­nor, New­som promised to look into pulling back Cal­i­for­nia troops from what called a “stunt on the pres­i­dent’s part.”

There are now more than 2,000 Na­tional Guard forces sta­tioned along the bor­der. There are also 2,300 ac­tive­duty troops, and Trump said this month that he will send an ad­di­tional 3,750 troops to help in­stall wire bar­ri­ers and mon­i­tor bor­der cross­ings.

In his State of the Union ad­dress to Congress on Tues­day, Trump warned of a “lawless state” and a “tremen­dous on­slaught” of il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion and other crime along the south­ern bor­der as he urged law­mak­ers to sup­port fund­ing for con­struc­tion of his pro­posed wall.

New­som’s de­ci­sion to with­draw most of Cal­i­for­nia’s Guard troops fol­lows a sim­i­lar ac­tion by the new gover­nor of New Mex­ico, Demo­crat Michelle Lu­jan Gr­isham. Last week, she or­dered the with­drawal of most of the state’s nearly 120 Na­tional Guard troops as­signed to the south­ern bor­der.

“New Mex­ico will not take part in the pres­i­dent’s cha­rade of bor­der fear­mon­ger­ing by misusing our dili­gent Na­tional Guard troops,” Lu­jan Gr­isham said.

De­nis Poroy / As­so­ci­ated Press 2006

Cal­i­for­nia Na­tional Guard troops work at the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der fence near the San Ysidro port of en­try in San Diego County.

Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Im­ages 2018

Cur­rent Gov. Gavin New­som (left), Pres­i­dent Trump and thenGov. Jerry Brown view fire dam­age in Butte County last year.

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