LOS ANGELES — In an apparent de-escalation of the raging conflict between California and President Donald Trump over immigration, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday agreed to increase California National Guard operations along the state’s border with Mexico, while insisting personnel will not be used to support any immigration enforcement or to build a border wall.
The announcement comes less than a week after Trump called for National Guard deployments along the U.S.-Mexico border until a border wall is built. The Republican governors of Texas and Arizona already committed to participate.
But Brown, whose state has clashed repeatedly with Trump over immigration and other issues, was far more cautious in his response.
In a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the four-term Democrat said California “will accept federal funding to add approximately 400 Guard members statewide to supplement the staffing of its ongoing program to combat transnational crime” but that personnel would be deployed throughout the state and will not be used to enforce immigration laws.
“But let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission,” Brown wrote. “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 noted that California has previously supported “similar targeted assistance in 2006 under President Bush and in 2010 under President Obama.” He called the work “important” and said that of about 250 California Guard members currently staffing a program to combat transnational crime, 55 are at the California-Mexico border.
“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,” Brown wrote. “Combating these criminal threats are priorities for all Americans — Republicans and Democrats.”
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