California is denying a report claiming National Guard troops won’t be doing any duties on the border. John wrote about the original Associated Press report yesterday claiming the state told the feds the troops would go, but wouldn’t do maintenance on vehicles or mission support for the Border Patrol. But…Via NBC 7 in San Diego:

Both a spokesperson for Governor Jerry Brown’s office and a commander with the California National Guard told NBC 7 the report is “inaccurate.”

Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Commissioner Ronald D. Vitiello said Brown has determined that some tasks federal officials want the state’s National Guard to perform at the U.S.-Mexico border are “unsupportable.”

Vitiello made the comments to reporters in Washington Monday after two U.S. officials told The Associated Press said terms of the federal government’s initial plans for sending National Guard troops to the border because the work is considered too closely tied to immigration.

California National Guard Lt. Col. Tom Keegan told NBC 7 that state officials have not rejected the plan since a memorandum was sent to the federal government.

“State officials have not rejected anything since the Governor responded to the federal government last Wednesday,” Keegan said. “The federal government has not yet responded. The next step is for the federal government to respond by signing the Memorandum of Agreement.”


This really strikes me as a case of public negotiation between the feds and the state. It’s petty, stupid, and also part of the nature of politics because it can involve rather ridiculous ‘negotiations’ and public hand wringing. California probably doesn’t want the National Guard on the border (because optics) while the federal government wants them (because campaign promises). Both sides are probably hoping to gin up support and make the other side look foolish through negative press. The question is whether this will resonate with anyone outside their bubble.

It should be pointed out the National Guard isn’t scheduled to do any law enforcement activities on the border. The Defense Department outlined the goals of the National Guard in DC yesterday.

The Defense Department will provide DHS with up to 4,000 National Guard troops to support the April 4 presidential memorandum authorizing the enhanced presence along the southwest border, said Robert G. Salesses, deputy assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense integration and defense support of civil authorities.

The troops will work only in operational support missions, he said, explaining their mission will not include roles in which they would interact with migrants or other people detained by DHS.

“They will not perform law enforcement functions, and they will not be placed in direct contact with personnel coming to the border,” Salesses explained.

The federal government wants National Guardsmen on the border citing increased arrest statistics in the first four months of this year. There are a couple things which are important to realize when looking at the stats. The first has to do with the fact CBP’s graph counts arrests and people told at border checkpoints they can’t come into the country. There’s definitely an increase of people trying to get in through checkpoints from this year to last year but they’re relatively consistent with statistics from 2015-2016. The amount of people being rejected by CBP at border checkpoints appears to be stable too, if I’m reading the statistics right. There was definitely an increase in people arrested trying to slip over the border without going through a checkpoint, but only by 10K or so from January to March.Border crossings are still at a 46 year low, according to the President. It’s still questionable why the National Guard would need to be on the border, and why the Border Patrol couldn’t simply move agents from one location (say the U.S.-Canada border) to another.

The situation involving the National Guard, California, and the U.S. border is just political theater and we all need to realize it. I’ve no idea who will end up blinking in this dispute between the two governmental entities, just like I’m not 100% it’s smart to send Guardsmen to the border. I’ve written before how the problem with this entire ‘illegal immigration’ discussion is the fact legal immigration is so hard. There are also constitutional questions whether the U.S. government has the right to say who can and can’t come into the country because Article 1, Section 8 says Congress can establish uniform laws of naturalization i.e. how long it takes for immigrants to become citizens. Article 1, Section 9 does mention “migration and importation” but it appears Congress is talking about slavery, not immigration. It’s just something to think about while California and the feds circle each other like a pair of baboons trying to decide who will blink first on this situation.