California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said Tuesday that his state has reached an agreement in principle with the Pentagon to deploy National Guard personnel to the border, hours after President Trump accused Brown on Twitter of endangering public safety by insisting that the troops refrain from immigration enforcement.
California is the only border state yet to send troops in support of Trump’s military mobilization, and though Brown has offered to deploy 400 guardsmen from the California Guard, the terms of their mission have been in dispute.
Brown on Tuesday played down the differences, saying that the state’s troops were ready to go.
“I think we’ve already come to terms, but we haven’t gotten written confirmation,” Brown told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington.
His comments came not long after the president alleged in an early morning tweet that Brown and California “are not looking for safety and security along their very porous Border.”
The Republican governors of the other U.S. states bordering Mexico responded eagerly last week to Trump’s call for as many as 4,000 troops. Military officials say 900 are already in position, including 650 in Texas.
The Guard troops will not be required to carry weapons and will not make arrests, but Brown has insisted on an additional limitation: that the California Guard refrain from participation in any immigration enforcement activities.
California lawmakers have enacted “sanctuary” policies that sharply limit cooperation with U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE), measures that bring near-daily denunciations from Trump administration officials.
On Monday, the chief of the Border Patrol, alongside top Pentagon officials, said the agency would work with California to find other tasks for Guard troops to perform in the state. Brown wants them to support law enforcement efforts targeting drugs, gangs and traffickers.
“Trying to stop drug smuggling, human trafficking and guns going to Mexico to the cartels — that sounds to me like fighting crime,” Brown said Tuesday. “Trying to catch some desperate mothers and children or unaccompanied minors coming from Central America — that sounds like something else.”
Brown said he wants to be “cooperative” with the Trump administration, and he appreciated the president’s April 12 tweet applauding him for agreeing to join the troop deployment.
“There’s been a little bit of back and forth, as you always get with bureaucrats,” Brown said. “But I think we can find common understanding here. There’s enough problems at the border and the interface between our countries that California will have plenty to do — and we’re willing to do it.”