California Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to join the Trump administration’s National Guard border security deployment, while emphasizing in a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Defense Secretary James Mattis that “there is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California.”
“Pursuant to your request, the California National Guard will accept federal funding to add approximately 400 Guard members statewide to supplement the staffing of its ongoing program to combat transnational crime. This program is currently staffed by 250 personnel statewide, including 55 at the California border,” Brown wrote Wednesday.
“Your funding for new staffing will allow the Guard to do what it does best: support operations targeting transnational criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers along the border, the coast and throughout the state,” he added. “Combating these criminal threats are priorities for all Americans – Republicans and Democrats. That’s why the state and the Guard have long supported this important work and agreed to similar targeted assistance in 2006 under President Bush and in 2010 under President Obama.”
Trump tweeted today, “California Governor Jerry Brown is doing the right thing and sending the National Guard to the Border. Thank you Jerry, good move for the safety of our Country!”
However, the governor added, parties involved must be “crystal clear on the scope of this mission” at the Mexican border.
“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. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws,” Brown said, noting that “overall immigrant apprehensions on the border last year were as low as they’ve been in nearly 50 years (and 85 percent of the apprehensions occurred outside of California).”
“I agree with the Catholic Bishops who have said that local, state and federal officials should ‘work collaboratively and prudently in the implementation of this deployment, ensuring that the presence of the National Guard is measured and not disruptive to community life,'” he wrote. “I look forward to working with you on this important effort.”
Bishop Joe Vásquez, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, agreed in a statement Wednesday with the bishops’ concerns expressed last week about the National Guard deployment, emphasizing that “current law entitles those fleeing persecution and arriving in our country to due process as their claims are reviewed.”
“As the border bishops state: ‘Seeking refuge from persecution and violence in search of a peaceful life for oneself and one’s family is not a crime,'” Vásquez said. “Our faith calls us to respond with compassion to those who suffer and seek safe haven; we ask our government to do the same as it seeks to safely and humanely secure the border.”