Amid an intense debate over immigration and President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) plans to issue an order Monday pulling more than 300 National Guard troops from the state’s southern border.
Newson will explain his reasoning Tuesday during his State of the State address, according to the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press, which obtained excerpts of his speech. The governor plans to reassign the soldiers to help with wildfire prevention and combat drug smuggling across the state, according to local reports.
“The border ‘emergency’ is a manufactured crisis, and California will not be part of this political theater,” he intends to say in his address, according to an except given to the Associated Press.
Since the 2016 election, California and the Trump administration have battled over issues ranging from the environment to border security.
The news comes less than a week after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) made a similar decision, ordering the reassignment of troops along New Mexico’s southwestern border. She handed down the order Tuesday — the same night Trump addressed the nation during his State of the Union, speaking about what he called “our very dangerous southern border” with Mexico.
“The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security, and financial well‑being of all Americans,” the president said. “We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. This includes our obligation to the millions of immigrants living here today, who followed the rules and respected our laws. Legal immigrants enrich our Nation and strengthen our society in countless ways. I want people to come into our country — but they have to come in legally.
“Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.”
As The Washington Post reported, the New Mexico governor said that she rejected “the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country.”
“New Mexico will not take part in the president’s charade of border fearmongering by misusing our diligent National Guard troops,” she said.
In California, the governor plans to remove 360 or so National Guard troops by March 31 — 110 troops will be assigned to bolster the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, 100 will be sent to thwart drug cartels and another 150 will join the California National Guard’s Counterdrug Task Force, Nathan Click, a spokesman for the governor, told the Los Angeles Times.
The governor’s office could not immediately be reached for comment by The Washington Post.
After other border states committed troops last year to Trump’s National Guard deployment, California’s then-governor, Jerry Brown, agreed to deploy 400 soldiers to the state’s southern boundary. However, he said in a letter to Trump administration officials that their role would be to combat transnational crime.
“But let’s be crystal clear on the scope of this mission,” Brown added. “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.
“Here are the facts: there is no massive wave of migrants pouring into California. Overall immigrant apprehensions on the border last year were as low as they’ve been in nearly 50 years (and 85 percent of the apprehensions occurred outside of California).”
In Trump’s State of the Union address last week, he said he was ordering another 3,700 troops to go to the southern border with Mexico “to prepare for the tremendous onslaught” from migrant caravans traveling toward the United States. That would mean there are about 6,000 soldiers there, according to NPR.