By Anandita Mehta
Defense Secretary James Mattis approved Pentagon funding on April 6 for the deployment of 4,000 National Guardsmen to the U.S.-Mexico border, according to CNBC.
President Donald Trump issued a statement on April 4 declaring his intent to deploy the troops to fight against illegal immigration, according to CNBC.
The statement also detailed that Secretary Mattis will work with the Department of Homeland Security to train and direct troops to secure the border, according to CNN.
“We stand ready to support the needs of the state and the nation at the request of the governor or the president,” said Lt. Col Travis Walters, a spokesman for the Texas Military Department, according to The New York Times.
Though federal law prohibits the National Guard from acting as law enforcement, its role will include supporting Border Patrol with training and intelligence gathering, according to CNN.
Former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush deployed the National Guard to the border in 2012 and 2006, according to CNBC.
The border’s mobilization cost the state of Texas $63 million in 2015, when former Gov. Greg Abbott continued deployment, according to The New York Times.
Though three presidents have put forth action to deploy troops to the border, it is under the state governor’s jurisdiction to control and command them, according to CNBC. According to the federal law known as Title 32, the state controls and commands the National Guard, but they are federally funded, according to The New York Times.
“The mobilization supports the priorities of the governor and the President in securing our borders,” said Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, according to CNN.
Democratic Gov. of Montana Steve Bullock refused to send National Guardsmen to the border, while Republican Gov. of New Mexico Susana Martinez promised to promptly send troops, according to The New York Times.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey plans to deploy about 150 guardsmen to the border, according to CNBC.
Texas has already sent 250 troops, but plans to deploy more, according to CNN.
“It sounds to me more like political rhetoric than something that is actually needed on our border,” said Democratic Representative Vicente Gonzalez, whose district includes the border town of McAllen, Texas, according to The New York Times. “It’s the wildest thing in the world for us to hear that they want to bring National Guard troops to the border region.”