On Thursday, President Donald Trump told reports a deployment of 2,000 and 4,000 National Guard members to America’s southern border would be necessary to protect it while the wall is being built. He added he planned to “keep a large portion of them there until we get the wall,” which was a promise he ran his campaign on.
Signing a proclamation on Wednesday, the guard has been ordered to the border in response to the “unacceptable” illegal activity on the border: flow of drugs, criminal activity and illegal immigration.
On his way back to the White House from West Virginia the president spoke to reporters during a round-table discussion on tax reform, where he took the opportunity to make a statement about the order.
“We have to have strong borders. We’re going to have the wall,” Trump said. “We’ve started building and fixing miles and miles of wall that’s already up and fence and we’re gonna have our wall and we’re gonna get it very strongly and the military is going to be building some of it.”
Via Fox News: Earlier Thursday, Ronald Vitiello, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s acting deputy commissioner, cautioned against a rushed deployment.
“We are going to do it as quickly as we can do it safely,” Vitiello said during a Fox News interview on “Outnumbered Overtime.”
He said that guard members would be placed in jobs that do not require law enforcement work, an apparent reference to undertaking patrols and making arrests.
In Washington, the Pentagon said it is establishing a new “border security support cell” that will be manned 24 hours a day.
Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White added a comment on the issue saying it’s “not business as usual,” adding that all guard members would be there to “support border patrol agents who are performing law enforcement duties.”
Texas’ National Guard is in support of the president’s decision but stated deployment still remained in “very early planning stages.” Governors of New Mexico and Arizona have expressed their support too, however California has yet to respond to the call.
With troops in all states, the National Guard has been called on by past presidents and governors to help secure U.S. borders, and the Texas contingent said it had “firsthand knowledge of the mission and operating area” that will allow it to move seamlessly into the new role.
Trump ordered the deployment because “we are at a crisis point” with illegal immigration, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen of the Department of Homeland Security said.
“We’d like to stop it before the numbers get even bigger,” she said.
Nielsen said guard members would provide support to border officials, “help look at the technology, the surveillance, in some cases we’ll ask for some fleet mechanics” and free up agents trained in law enforcement for other duties.
Arrests along the U.S. border with Mexico jumped to 50,308 in March, a 37 percent increase from February, and more than triple the same period last year. Border arrests rose 10 of the last 11 months after falling in April 2017 to the lowest since the Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003.
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