Trump signs proclamation to send National Guard to US-Mexico border
President Donald Trump signed a proclamation Wednesday instructing officials to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The document ordered the Secretary of Defense to support the Department of Homeland Security in securing the southern border to stop the flow of drugs and people. And it ordered the agency heads to submit a report within 30 days outlining what other steps can be taken.
Trump said in a memorandum to his secretaries of defense and homeland security and to his attorney general that the “situation at the border has now reached a point of crisis.”
Trump said that “lawlessness” at the southern border is “fundamentally incompatible with the safety, security, and sovereignty of the American people” and that his administration “has no choice but to act.”
The move came after senior officials, including Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, said they were still finalizing plans and getting details in place.
“While plans are being finalized, it’s our expectation that the National Guard will deploy personnel in support of [Custom and Border Patrol’s] border security mission,” Nielsen said.
“It will take time to have the details in place but we are beginning [Wednesday] and moving quickly.”
It was still not known how many troops would be sent to the border, what the cost would be or how they would be deployed.
Nielsen said she had spoken with the governors of the four southern border states — including Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey.
“Arizona welcomes the deployment of National Guard to the border,” Ducey said in a tweet. “Washington has ignored this issue for too long and help is needed. For Arizona, it’s all about public safety.”
Nielsen responded to Ducey in a tweet.
Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer also praised the plan in an interview with KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos, saying that it was “needed” and “necessary.”
“It’s about time that we get some boots on the ground and we keep our borders safe and secure,” Brewer said. “The more people we have down there the safer we’re going to be.”
The duties of those troops were unclear. However, the head of the Border Patrol agents union said he would expect them to serve in a surveillance role.
“We expect the military, or the National Guard, to be our eyes,” Brandon Judd told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes.
“They would allow us to put more resources in the field as opposed to having our agents in the control room watching cameras, monitoring sensors, sitting in skyboxes and other surveillance positions.”
Trump said Tuesday he planned to send members of the military to the border until his oft-promised wall could be built.
“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” he told media at the White House.
“That’s a big step. We really haven’t done that before or, certainly, not very much before.”
U.S. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) said she supports the move.
But U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), who served in the Marines, blasted Trump’s plan.
“Trump wants to use our brave men and women in uniform to send a divisive political message,” Gallego said in a statement.
“Now he intends to employ our armed forces to advance his extreme anti-immigrant agenda, while wasting time, resources and money and depleting our military strength in areas of real danger. That’s an insult to our troops and it will harm our military as an institution. Congress must stop this misguided scheme.”
Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels, whose county is partially located on the southeastern Arizona border, said in a statement that he wants to discuss the issue with Ducey and “align our thoughts going forward.
“The proposed plan is all about security on the border and it needs to be a balanced approach with specific details provided on what this will mean for public safety in Cochise County jurisdictions,” part of the statement read.
“I consistently reach out to our local, state, and federal partners to work together in fulfilling our mission in providing safety and security, and this will be no different. I look forward to reviewing the proclamation and receiving additional information for this proposal.”
Santa Cruz Sheriff Tony Estrada, whose jurisdiction includes a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac and Gaydos that he would rather see more people guarding the three ports of entry.
“The majority of the hard drugs that are coming into this country through Santa Cruz county are coming through the three ports of entry,” he said. “The coke, the meth, marijuana, heroin, they’re coming through the ports of entry.”
“If they’re going to deploy anybody to deal with some of the issues on the border, I think drugs are what they need to address more than anything else,” Estrada added.
“In my opinion, illegal immigration pales — it pales — in comparison to the drug problem that we have in this nation. There’s not enough officers or inspectors at the ports of entry to be able to deal with it.”
Trump’s comments came about two weeks after he signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that funded the federal government through Sept. 30. It allocated zero dollars for his border wall.
Instead, $1.6 billion was designated for border security.
Last week, Trump suggested that money designated for military spending could be used to fund the wall that would stretch hundreds of miles from California to Texas.
Building the wall was one of Trump’s top campaign promises, and the idea that drew the loudest cheers from supporters at his rallies. Trump also insisted he’d make Mexico pay for the construction. But Mexico has made clear it has no intention of doing so.
Trump has also proposed making Mexico pay for the wall indirectly through measures such as increasing visa fees, imposing new tariffs and targeting remittances.
KTAR News’ Mark Carlson and the Associated Press contributed to this report.