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story.lead_photo.caption “The threat is real,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Wednesday at a White House briefing on border security. “It’s time to act.”

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a proclamation directing the National Guard to be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border.

The "situation at the border has now reached a point of crisis," Trump wrote in a memorandum to his his secretaries of defense and homeland security, as well as his attorney general.

The document orders the Defense Department to assist the Homeland Security Department in securing the southern border to stop the flow of drugs and people. And it orders the agency's leaders to submit a report within 30 days outlining what other steps can be taken.

The "lawlessness" at the border is "fundamentally incompatible with the safety, security, and sovereignty of the American people," Trump wrote. The administration "has no choice but to act."

Hours earlier, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced that Trump and border-state governors were working to "immediately" deploy the Guard to the border to fight illegal immigration.

"The threat is real," Nielsen said. "It's time to act."

[U.S. immigration: Data visualization of selected immigration statistics, U.S. border map]

Trump teased the announcement earlier Wednesday on Twitter: "Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong. Congress must change these Obama era, and other, laws NOW! The Democrats stand in our way -- they want people to pour into our country unchecked....CRIME! We will be taking strong action today."

Under Trump's plan, National Guard troops will assist Border Patrol agents until Congress passes legislation to deal with what the administration says are legal loopholes in immigration enforcement, the White House explained in a release late Wednesday.

According to an official familiar with the plan, speaking on condition of anonymity before details were released, the troops are expected to play a support role, conducting tasks such as road development and intelligence gathering.

Nielsen told reporters that she had been in touch with governors of the southwest border states and that she was working with them to develop agreements that will oversee where and how many guardsmen will be deployed. She suggested some troops could begin arriving as soon as Wednesday night, though other administration officials cautioned that details on troop levels, locations and timing were still being worked out.

"We do hope that the deployment begins immediately," Nielsen said.

One senator from a border state derided the move.

Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., criticized the deployment as an "offensive effort to militarize the border" and "another pitiful attempt to distract attention from the dangerous chaos the president is creating."

"Smart border technology and more customs officers would be a much more effective and efficient security investment, that would also benefit our economy and relations with Mexico," Udall said in a statement emailed to reporters.

Trump has been frustrated by slow action on building his "big, beautiful wall" along the Mexican border -- a signature promise of his campaign -- as well as a recent uptick in illegal border crossings that had plunged during the early months of his presidency. He also has been bothered that the spending bill he grudgingly signed last month includes far less money for the wall than he'd hoped.

Federal law prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement inside the U.S., unless specifically authorized by Congress. But over the past 12 years, presidents have twice sent National Guard troops to the border to bolster security and assist with surveillance and other support.

Nielsen said the effort would be similar to a 2006 operation in which President George W. Bush deployed troops to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel with non-law enforcement duties while additional border agents were hired and trained. President Barack Obama also sent about 1,200 troops in 2010 to beef up efforts against drug smuggling and illegal immigration.

Nielsen said her department had developed a list of locations where it would like assistance and was discussing with the governors how to facilitate the plans. She declined to say how many personnel would be needed or how much the operation would cost, but she insisted, "It will be as many as is needed to fill the gaps that we have today."

[PRESIDENT TRUMP: Timeline, appointments, executive orders + guide to actions in first year]

One congressional aide said lawmakers anticipate 300 to 1,200 troops will be deployed and that the cost was expected to be at least $60 million to $120 million a year. The Pentagon would probably need authorization from Congress for any funding beyond a few months, said the aide, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.


Governors of most of the U.S. states bordering Mexico were largely supportive of the move to deploy the National Guard.

In Texas, which already has about 100 National Guardsmen stationed on the border, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said the president's decision "reinforces Texas' longstanding commitment to secure our southern border and uphold the Rule of Law."

"Going forward, Texas will continue to implement robust border security efforts, and this partnership will help ensure we are doing everything we can to stem the flow of illegal immigration," Abbott said in a statement.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, said she appreciated the Trump administration's efforts to involve states in the effort to better secure the border. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, also a Republican, tweeted that his state "welcomes the deployment of National Guard to the border. Washington has ignored this issue for too long and help is needed."

California was noncommittal on the administration's plans. Lt. Col. Tom Keegan, a spokesman for the state's National Guard, said Wednesday that the state will "promptly" review the request to "determine how best we can assist our federal partners." The California National Guard already has 55 personnel who provide support at the border through its anti-drug operations.

"We look forward to more detail, including funding, duration and end state," Keegan said.

In Arkansas, which deployed about 200 guardsmen of the 39th Infantry Brigade on six-month orders to assist New Mexico border agents in 2006, the governor said the White House had made some preliminary inquiries to his office about deploying troops the border.

"As a former Homeland Security undersecretary responsible for securing the border, I am well aware of the illegal activity that make the border a dangerous place," Hutchinson said. "The United States must enforce its immigration law at the point of entry."

Hutchinson served in the Homeland Security position in George W. Bush's administration.

In Mexico, meanwhile, senators urged President Enrique Pena Nieto to temporarily suspend cooperation with the U.S. on immigration and security issues. In a nonbinding statement approved unanimously Wednesday, the senators asked Mexico's government to freeze joint efforts "in the fight against transnational organized crime" until Trump starts acting "with the civility and respect that the people of Mexico deserve."

Trump first revealed Tuesday that he'd been discussing the idea of using the military at the border with Mattis.

"We're going to be doing things militarily. Until we can have a wall and proper security, we're going to be guarding our border with the military," Trump said.

He spent the first months of his presidency bragging about a dramatic drop in illegal border crossings, which some Homeland Security officials had even dubbed the "Trump effect." Indeed, arrests at the border last April were at the lowest level since the Homeland Security Department was created in 2003, and fiscal 2017 saw a 45-year low for Border Patrol arrests.

Yet there are signs the numbers could rise. Homeland Security statistics released Wednesday show that border agents apprehended about 50,300 people in March, a steep increase from March 2017, when that figure was about 16,600. The March 2017 number, however, was significantly lower than apprehensions from the previous four years.

Theresa Cardinal Brown, a former policy adviser for Customs and Border Protection under the Bush administration, said governors have negotiating power over deployment details, such as how long troops would be used and their specific duties.

She said, for instance, that California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose administration has sued the federal government over Trump's border wall, could insist that his state's National Guard troops not be employed to construct such barriers.

"They would have a lot of control because this is a negotiation," said Theresa Brown, who is now at the Bipartisan Policy Center. "[Homeland Security] can't do this unless the governors say yes."

Trump's new focus on hard-line immigration policies appears aimed, at least in part, in drawing a political contrast with Democrats heading into the midterm elections. He has also been under growing pressure from conservative backers who have accused him of betraying his base for not delivering on the wall, and he was set off by images played on Fox News of a "caravan" of Central Americans making their way through Mexico.

Information for this article was contributed by Jill Colvin, Lolita C. Baldor, Matthew Daly, Robert Burns and Nomaan Merchant of The Associated Press; by Jennifer Epstein, Terrence Dopp, Roxana Tiron and Erik Wasson of Bloomberg News; by Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post; and by Hunter Field of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

A Section on 04/05/2018

Print Headline: Trump calls Guard to face border 'crisis'


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Archived Comments

  • RBear
    April 5, 2018 at 6:21 a.m.

    The Drama Queen in Chief is really amping it up on this one. The rhetoric is over the top, but without any basis. Of course, that doesn't mean anything to his issue illiterate base who would believe him if he said CHIIINA was pouring over the border. It doesn't take much to fool the clueless.
    To start with, immigrants are NOT pouring over the border as Trump wants to make you think. In fact, border crossings are at an all time low and started dropping under Obama. They've been dropping ever since. So, we are mobilizing forces that will cost in the millions to ... sit around and not do very much.
    Which brings us to the next point. This has been done before the results were pretty lackluster. Obama did it. Perry did it. It's more about show than anything else. When Perry did it as governor, it was costly, it took men and women from their families for months, and it created problems in the region coordinating the mission. When things were finally running somewhat smooth, the money ran out.
    All of this is so Trump can throw a tantrum by throwing around his toy soldiers. It really does resemble a little kid who didn't get his Lego blocks so he's going to throw the toy soldiers around the room. I'm really waiting for the moment an adult actually occupies the WH.

  • 23cal
    April 5, 2018 at 6:53 a.m.

    As RB says: "All of this is so Trump can throw a tantrum by throwing around his toy soldiers." Just like he is going to throw his toy soldiers around in an ego-satisfying parade. He couldn't bully his way into money for his wall so he's having a hissy.
    There is no "crisis"

  • drs01
    April 5, 2018 at 8:31 a.m.

    I love it. Our troops will actually be used to do something constructive in OUR OWN COUNTRY. No more deployment to filthy third world nations. Doubt in 60,000 of them will die like they did in a Democrat sponsored war in the 1960's. Finally we have someone who is willing to do more than give lip service to the immigration issue.
    Now if he would only send in our air force on napalm bombing missions to scare the crap out of these law breaking illegals............

  • malice06220956
    April 5, 2018 at 9:21 a.m.

    Comments here from people who have not been to the border to see things first hand. If the liberal press says there's nothing to see, I would highly recommend a road trip to the border to confirm for yourself. Too many places to cross over undetected.

  • drs01
    April 5, 2018 at 9:28 a.m.

    I would remind some of you who are just youngsters that our president, Eisenhower, used federal troops here in Little Rock (1957) to enforce the law of the land. It was an unpopular decision especially to the defiant governor named Faubus. California and Jerry Brown are high on the hit list for the next historical event.

  • RBear
    April 5, 2018 at 9:43 a.m.

    malice I have been to ththe border several times and lived in San Antonio for 25 years. I also know about the prior efforts. What’s your level of experience? I’m assuming it was a tourist trip and no real contact with locals. Wanna try again?

  • malice06220956
    April 5, 2018 at 9:59 a.m.

    Even though San Antonio is close to Laredo, it is not on the border as McAllen, where I spent a week going into between there and Reynosa. From numerous news reports I have read and videos I have watched, it took repeated complaints from people living on the border to get the attention of the previous administration - such as waking up to find illegals sleeping on their porch or passing through their fields- to slow down the problem. It would be naive to believe, that while the problem has slowed down, it has ended. The Border Patrol can do only so much. That said, I imagine the biggest border control problem is in California, which does not differentiate between trespassers and legal immigration. I don't claim to be an authority, but you are not either. I think most reasonable Americans want illegal aliens to leave and apply for citizenship and most definitely allow in those who want to immigrate legally by observing our laws. I believe Trump's actions are as much a message to illegals living in the United States as to those attempting to enter - that if sent back, they will be unable to return until they are cleared to legally enter. We are a nation of laws - is that unreasonable?

  • RBear
    April 5, 2018 at 10:14 a.m.

    drs the troops in ‘57 were deployed for a different purpose. They were not used for enforcement, but more for protection. Indirectly, they enforced Brown v. Board of Education but only to make sure the students could attend school. No person was detained as a result of the deployment.
    This is much different and, as has been noted, is essentially useless. It’s been done before and didn’t yield results expected. That was with far more crossings than now. Crossings have declining daily.
    Just pointing out fact.

  • RBear
    April 5, 2018 at 10:28 a.m.

    malice collectively I have spent more than a week and have a LOT of contact with border folks. Many of my friends still have family in the RGV. The reports you make are exaggerated in many cases. I lived in Texas when Perry deployed last and have a lot of context on that. You’re just parroting the Trump line. BTW, the National Guard cannot enforce laws per the rule of law.

  • hah406
    April 5, 2018 at 10:29 a.m.

    Again as I said yesterday, if illegal immigration is really in such a "crisis," why are we not focusing on the biggest problem. That of people that fly into the country and overstay their visas? Far more of them than there are Hispanic's coming across the southern border. So drs01, are you suggesting that we napalm the Mexico side of the border and start a war, or should we bomb our own citizens who have ranches and cattle and crops and houses on or near the border? Stupid idea.
    If he wants to use the National Guard to support CBP personnel, then so be it. But don't do it under the pretense that there is some kind of crisis, when border crossings have been falling for years. POTUS is of such low character, IQ, and morals that he is easily manipulated by whatever media he is consuming in the moment. Fox news essentially put him up to this.