ROMA, Texas (AP) — The deployment of National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border at President Donald Trump’s request was underway Tuesday with a gradual ramp-up of troops under orders to help curb illegal immigration.
The Trump administration also announced that Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will visit this week 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 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-and-control of their state’s Guard during a mission that for now has no firm end date.
The only holdout border state was California, led by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not announced whether troops from his state’s National Guard will participate and has repeatedly clashed with Trump over immigration policy. The state was still reviewing Tuesday whether it will join the effort, said Lt. Tom Keegan, a spokesman for the California National Guard.
In Texas, where Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged to put more than 1,000 Guard members into action, military officials said Tuesday that 300 troops would report to armories this week 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.