United States President Donald Trump is asking the governors of states on the Mexico-U.S. border to send National Guard units to support efforts of the Border Patrol, the homeland security secretary said today.
Kirstjen Nielsen said “the president is frustrated” over continued illegal immigration, she said. “He has been very clear that he wants to secure our border.”
Trump announced yesterday that he intended to deploy the military to protect his country’s southern border until the proposed border wall is built.
“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” Trump said during a news conference at the White House.
“President Obama made changes that basically created no border. It’s called catch and release . . . they go into our country, we can’t throw them out and in many cases, they shouldn’t be here,” he added.
Nielsen explained that National Guard personnel would not be allowed to arrest people crossing the border but could provide support, as happened in 2006 and 2010.
Former president George W. Bush deployed more than 6,000 troops to repair border fences and construct new barriers in 2006 while in 2010 his successor, Barack Obama, sent the National Guard to help secure the border.
“It’s time to act,” Nielsen said, but did not specify how many troops would be deployed, saying only “it will be strong” and hopefully immediately. She said her department has seen dangerous levels of illegal immigration and drug trafficking across the border.
After a decline in the number of people caught crossing the border illegally during the initial months of the Trump administration, the numbers have begun to climb again, she said.
Yesterday’s announcement came after three days of angry rhetoric from Trump on illegal immigration that was apparently triggered by a news report of a migrant caravan traveling through Mexico.
Starting Sunday, the U.S. president took aim at Mexico in a series of tweets, declaring that Mexico has not done enough to stop migration and drug flows through its territory and threatening to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in retaliation.
Yesterday, Trump again used the renegotiation of the trilateral treaty as a bargaining chip.
“We will be doing things with Mexico and they have to do it, otherwise I’m not going to do the NAFTA deal. NAFTA has been fantastic for Mexico, bad for us,” he said.
In response to Trump’s plan, Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States, Gerónimo Gutiérrez, announced that he had “formally requested clarification about the president’s comments from the Departments of State and Homeland Security.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Luis Videgaray said via his Twitter account that the Mexican government had sought clarification on the proposal “through official channels” and will determine its position based on “said clarification and [as] always in defense of our sovereignty and national interest.”
Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen said the Trump administration would again ask Congress to change immigration law to allow faster processing of claims and speedier deportations, the Los Angeles Times reported.