Thu, Apr 12, 2018 - Page 7 News List

National Guard deployment to Mexican border underway

AP, ROMA, Texas

The deployment of National Guard members to the US-Mexico border at US President Donald Trump’s request was underway on Tuesday with a gradual ramp-up of troops under orders to help curb illegal immigration.

The Trump administration also said that US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen would this week visit a stretch of new border wall breaking ground in New Mexico, putting additional focus on what Trump has called a crisis of migrant crossings and crime.

The construction and the commitment of at least 1,600 Guard members from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas provoked fresh condemnation from immigrant activists and praise from border-state Republican governors, who will retain command of their state’s Guard units during a mission that for now has no firm end date.

The only holdout border state was California, led by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who has not said whether troops from the California National Guard would participate and has repeatedly clashed with Trump over immigration policy.

In Texas, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott has vowed to put more than 1,000 Guard members into action, military officials on Tuesday said that 300 troops would report this week to armories for preparation and training.

Texas has previously kept about 100 Guard members stationed on the border for years as part of its own border security efforts.

“What is different now it is happening in a different context and a different narrative,” said Fernando Garcia, director of the Border Network for Human Rights, an immigrant advocacy group.

Speaking from the Rio Grande Valley where immigrant crossings are the highest along the 3,200km US-Mexico border, Garcia said: “When you hear the narrative of the president, it seems to him the enemy is the immigrant family.”

Abbott said on Tuesday that the Guard has “proven to have a meaningful impact” in reducing immigration and crime.

Trump administration officials have said that rising numbers of people caught at the border, while in line with seasonal trends in recent years, require a quick response.

Apprehensions are still well below their historical trends during the terms of former US presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, both of whom also deployed Guard units to the border.

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