US National Guard members are being deployed to the US-Mexico border at President Donald Trump’s request as troops are deployed to try and halt ever-increasing waves of invaders entering America.
According to media reports, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will this week visit a stretch of new border wall breaking ground in New Mexico, putting additional focus on what Trump has called a “crisis” of crossings and crime.
The construction and commitment of at least 1,600 Guard members from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas provoked fresh condemnation from pro-invasion activists and praise from border-state Republican governors, who will retain command-and-control of their state’s Guard during a mission that for now has no firm end date.
The only holdout border state was California, led by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not announced whether troops from his state’s National Guard will participate and has repeatedly clashed with Trump over immigration policy.
The state was still reviewing Tuesday whether it will join the effort, said Lt. Tom Keegan, a spokesman for the California National Guard.
In Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged to put more than 1,000 Guard members into action, military officials said Tuesday that 300 troops would report to armories this week for preparation and training.
Texas has previously kept about 100 Guard members stationed on the border for years as part of its own border security efforts.
Abbott said in a statement Tuesday that the Guard has “proven to have a meaningful impact” in reducing immigration and crime.
Trump said last week he wants to send 2,000 to 4,000 National Guard members to the border, issuing a proclamation citing “the lawlessness that continues at our southern border.”
Trump administration officials have said that rising numbers of people being caught at the southern border require an immediate response.
Monthly border arrests surpassed 50,000 in March for the first time since December 2016. The Border Patrol, which polices between but not at official crossings, made more than 37,000 of those arrests, including more than 14,000 in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, nearly 6,000 in its Tucson, Arizona, sector and more than 4,000 in San Diego.
Inspectors at official crossings made nearly 13,000 arrests in March, led by the Laredo, Texas, field office with more than 4,800 and the San Diego field office with about 3,800.
Some Guard members will be armed if they are placed in potential danger, Abbott said, adding he wanted to downplay speculation that “our National Guard is showing up with military bayonets trying to take on anybody that’s coming across the border, because that is not their role.”
There is no end date for the deployment, Abbott said: “We may be in this for the long haul.”
Trump has said he wants to use the military at the border until progress is made on his proposed border wall, which has mostly stalled in Congress.
Defense Secretary James Mattis last Friday approved paying for up to 4,000 National Guard personnel from the Pentagon budget through the end of September.