FILE - In this June 21, 2006, file photo, members of the California National Guard work next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence Wednesday, June 21, 2006, near the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego. President Donald Trump said April 3, 2018, he wants to use the military to secure the U.S.-Mexico border until his promised border wall is built. The Department of Homeland Security and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. At the Pentagon, officials were struggling to answer questions about the plan, including rudimentary details on whether it would involve National Guard members, as similar programs in the past have done. But officials appeared to be considering a model similar to a 2006 operation in which former President George W. Bush deployed National Guard troops to the southern border in an effort to increase security and surveillance.(AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

Trump directs troops deployed to border

Trump signed a proclamation directing the deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border

Asserting the situation had reached “a point of crisis,” President Donald Trump signed a proclamation directing the deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration and drug smuggling.

“The lawlessness that continues at our southern border is fundamentally incompatible with the safety, security, and sovereignty of the American people,” Trump wrote Wednesday in a memo authorizing the move, adding that his administration had “no choice but to act.”

RELATED: Trump wants military to secure border with Mexico

The announcement came hours after Trump pledged “strong action today” on immigration and a day after he said he announced he wanted to use the military to secure the southern border until his long-promised, stalled border wall is erected.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said she had been working with governors of the southwest border states to develop agreements on where and how many Guardsmen will be deployed.

Trump has been frustrated by slow action on building his “big, beautiful wall” along the Mexican border — the signature promise of his campaign — as well as a recent uptick in illegal border crossings, which had plunged during the early months of his presidency, giving Trump an accomplishment to point to when he had few.

Federal law prohibits the use of active-duty service members for law enforcement inside the U.S., unless specifically authorized by Congress. But over the past 12 years, presidents have twice sent National Guard troops to the border to bolster security and assist with surveillance and other support.

RELATED: Trump inspects border wall prototypes, denounces California

Nielsen said the effort would be similar to a 2006 operation in which President George W. Bush deployed troops to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel with non-law enforcement duties while additional border agents were hired and trained. President Barack Obama also sent about 1,200 troops in 2010 to beef up efforts against drug smuggling and illegal immigration.

Nielsen said her department had developed a list of locations where it would like assistance on things like aerial surveillance and other support. She declined to say how many personnel would be needed or how much the operation would cost, but she insisted, “It will be as many as is needed to fill the gaps that we have today.”

One congressional aide said that lawmakers anticipate 300 to 1,200 troops will be deployed and that the cost was expected to be at least $60 million to $120 million a year. The Pentagon would probably need authorization from Congress for any funding beyond a few months, said the aide, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Under the mechanism the administration is looking to use, the Guard would not be mobilized as a federal force. Instead, governors would control the Guard within their states.

Governors of the four U.S. states bordering Mexico were largely supportive of the move. The office of California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat who has sparred with Trump on immigration issues, said any federal request would be promptly reviewed to determine how the state could best offer its assistance.

The Mexican foreign ministry said Nielsen told Mexico’s top diplomat that troops deployed to the border “will not carry arms or carry out migration or customs control activities.”

Senators in Mexico urged President Enrique Pena Nieto to temporarily suspend co-operation with the U.S. on immigration and security issues. In a nonbinding statement approved unanimously Wednesday, the senators asked Mexico’s government to freeze joint efforts “in the fight against transnational organized crime” until Trump starts acting “with the civility and respect that the people of Mexico deserve.”

Trump first revealed Tuesday that he’d been discussing the idea of using the military at the border with Defence Secretary Jim Mattis.

“We’re going to be doing things militarily. Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military,” Trump said.

He spent the first months of his presidency bragging about a dramatic drop in illegal border crossings, which some DHS officials had even dubbed the “Trump effect.” Indeed, arrests at the border last April were at the lowest level since DHS was created in 2003, and the 2017 fiscal year saw a 45-year low for Border Patrol arrests.

RELATED: Trump says deal for young immigrants is ‘NO MORE’

But the numbers have been slowly ticking up since last April and are now on par with many months of the Obama administration. New statistics released Wednesday show about 50,000 arrests of people trying to cross the southwest border last month, a 37 per cent increase from the previous month, and a 203 per cent increase compared to March 2017. The monthly increase follows typical seasonal fluctuations.

Trump’s new focus on hard-line immigration policies appears aimed, at least in part, in drawing a political contrast with Democrats heading into the midterm elections. He has also been under growing pressure from conservative backers who have accused him of betraying his base for not delivering on the wall, and he was set off by images played on his favourite network, Fox News, of a “caravan” of migrants making their way through Mexico.

In Texas, which already has about 100 National Guard members stationed on the border, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, said the president’s decision “reinforces Texas’ longstanding commitment to secure our southern border and uphold the Rule of Law.”

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, said she appreciated the Trump administration’s efforts to involve states in the effort to better secure the border. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, also a Republican, tweeted that his state “welcomes the deployment of National Guard to the border. Washington has ignored this issue for too long and help is needed.”

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Comox Valley RCMP seeking witnesses for attempted sexual assault

The Comox Valley RCMP is looking for witnesses after an attempted sexual… Continue reading

UPDATE: Vehicle rams boat into Courtenay home

Driver failed sobriety test, issued roadside prohibition and subsequently released

Jangula denounces Culture Guard endorsement

Has asked to be removed from list

Preliminary inquiry for Island resident facing numerous charges in Comox Valley shooting

A 27-year-old Saanich resident had his preliminary hearing in Courtenay Wednesday as… Continue reading

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Driving with dope: Police talk rules on cannabis in the car

Even though pot is legal, you can’t smoke in the car

B.C. NDP retreats again on empty-home tax for urban areas

Rate reduced for all Canadians, dissident mayors to get annual meeting

B.C. teens fined for possession of pot on legalization day

The pair received $230 fines for smoking pot in public

Trio of Saint Bernard find their ‘forever home’ after story goes viral

Edmonton Humane Society had put out the call to adopt Gasket, Gunther and Goliath

Nurses deliver 24,000 anti-violence postcards to B.C. Health Minister

Nurses delivered thousands of postcards to the front steps of the B.C. legislature, each carrying a message for violence prevention

Openly gay, female priest of B.C. church defying norms

Andrea Brennan serves Fernie at pivotal time in church’s history

Nova Scotia works to stop underage online cannabis sales

The government cannabis retailer moves to prevent workaround of online-age verification

Foster care is ‘superhighway to homelessness,’ B.C. youth advocate says

Katherine McParland grew up in foster care and lived on the streets

Most Read