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Md., Va. governors pull Guard troops from border to protest separations

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) at an April news conference in Annapolis. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)
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Maryland’s Republican governor has joined the outrage over the Trump administration’s separation of migrant children from their parents, ordering a National Guard helicopter and its crew to return from New Mexico and vowing not to deploy state resources to the border until the separations stop.

“Immigration enforcement efforts should focus on criminals, not separating innocent children from their families,” Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said on Twitter.

Hogan was the second Republican governor to take action against the Trump administration policy. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) on Monday scrapped plans to send a National Guard helicopter and military analysts to the border. His spokeswoman cited “the inhumane treatment of children” as the reason.

President Trump defiant as the family-separation crisis escalates

Many Democratic governors have made similar pledges. On Tuesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) recalled four Virginia National Guard soldiers and a helicopter.

“When Virginia deployed these resources to the border, we expected that they would play a role in preventing criminals, drug runners and other threats to our security from crossing into the United States — not supporting a policy of arresting families and separating children from their parents,” Northam said in a statement.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) compared the separation policy to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and said he would “not condone the use of our military reservists to participate in any effort at the border that is connected to this inhumane practice.” 

The pushback from the governors has affected just a handful of National Guard assets dispatched to address a surge in border crossings.

Texas, for example, has not backed away from its pledge to send some 1,400 National Guard troops to help Customs and Border Patrol with “surveillance and support,” according to the office of Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

In Maryland, the Democrats vying to challenge Hogan in the fall had been assailing President Trump’s policy for days and demanding that Hogan speak out.

“Separating children from their parents must end. It is pure evil, and complicit silence in the face of evil is evil,” candidate Krishanti Vignarajah said on a video she shared via social media Sunday. “Governor Hogan and too many Republicans have sat silent. We must hold them accountable.”

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On Monday evening, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery), also a gubernatorial candidate, announced a news conference Tuesday morning outside the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup, Md., to denounce the separations.

“The governor was very brave to send out a tweet, but, come on, that’s not enough,” Madaleno said Tuesday, shortly before the governor announced he was recalling the helicopter and its four-person crew. “Really, he’s got to take action.”

Hogan’s verbal order had been given to the Maryland National Guard by the state’s homeland security director approximately 30 minutes earlier, about 9:30 a.m., said Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse.

“A written order will be executed by the National Guard later today, however the governor’s verbal order was effective immediately,” Chasse said in an email.

Hogan is vying to become the second GOP governor in more than 60 years to be reelected in Maryland, where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 2 to 1.

He has frequently distanced himself from some of Trump’s more controversial positions, decrying his statements about women and breaking from the president on health-care issues and funding for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup.

On Monday, Hogan — who successfully battled cancer in 2015 — joined a bipartisan group of governors to call on the Trump administration to reverse its decision not to make a legal defense of a portion of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act that gives coverage to those with preexisting medical conditions.

Seventy percent of Marylanders disapprove of Trump, nearly the opposite of Hogan’s approval rating, according to a Goucher College poll released in April. But 47 percent of Marylanders polled said Hogan had distanced himself “about the right amount” from Trump. Twenty-seven percent said he had distanced himself too little, and 9 percent said too much.

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These are the Democrats vying to challenge Gov. Hogan in November