California governor plans to withdraw more troops from southern border

Posted at 11:14 AM, Feb 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-11 13:14:08-05
CA troops
California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to pull troops from southern border

SACRAMENTO, CA – California Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday he plans to withdraw several hundred National Guard troops from the state’s southern border with Mexico despite the Trump administration’s request for support from border states.

Newsom’s order will go into effect immediately, withdrawing over 200 troops, but the plan still allows until the end of March to do so.

Roughly 100 of the 360 troops will stay at the border under California’s agreement with the federal government to focus on combating transnational crime like drug and gun smuggling, Newsom spokesman Nathan Click said.

With another government shutdown in sight, President Trump is heading to El Paso, Texas on Monday to focus on securing the southern border with Mexico. Trump may still declare a national emergency to pay for the border wall.

But the White House says an emergency declaration is not the only way the President can get money to build a wall. However, the big money is on Capitol Hill and right now, the wallet is closed.

Newsom’s decision comes on the heels of New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, also a Democrat, who pulled back her state’s troops from the U.S.-Mexico border last Tuesday. The two state’s former governors, along with Texas and Arizona, agreed to send troops to the border last April at the Trump administration’s request.

Lujan Grisham’s order came just days after the Pentagon announced it would deploy 3,750 more troops to the southern border, bringing the total number of troops to the border to 4,350.

Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said those troops will install wire barriers and conduct mobile surveillance of the border area.

“The border ’emergency’ is a manufactured crisis, and California will not be part of this political theater,” Newsom plans to say in his Tuesday State of the State address, according to excerpts released by his office.

California’s governor will reassign around 110 troops to beef up the state’s fire preparation efforts ahead of the next wildfire season and expand the guard’s counterdrug task force program, which requires approval from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The original mission, approved by former California Governor Jerry Brown last April, said no California troops would take part in immigration-related activities. Brown wrote at the time in a letter to Trump administration officials, “This will not be a mission to build a new wall.”

Newsom’s order will argue that the increase in migrants crossing the border is the result of a desire to escape violence and repression fueled partly by activities of transnational crime organizations. He plans to argue that California guard’s resources are best spent tackling those activities.

Just a month into his governorship of the nation’s most populous state, Newsom has differed with Trump on immigration and other issues. Tuesday’s State of the State speech will be his first as governor.

Texas and Arizona still have troops at the border. The 360 troops are only a fraction of the roughly 14,000 that have been deployed throughout California for various operations since 2016.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)