Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday that he still wants to find a way to send National Guard troops to the border to assist federal authorities on anything but helping Border Patrol agents catch illegal immigrants.
His commitment came just a day after officials said California had refused the initial request for guard troops to do duties such as monitoring border cameras, maintaining Border Patrol vehicles and performing clerical duties that would have freed agents to get out into the field to catch smugglers, stop drugs and apprehend illegal immigrants.
Mr. Brown, a Democrat, said he’s interested in assisting some of those missions but won’t help if they also mean catching illegal immigrants who might be mothers or children.
“There’s been a little bit of back and forth,” the governor said. “I think we can find common understanding here.”
But he took umbrage at what he characterized as a “war” on his state by federal immigration officials. The Justice Department has sued to overturn three of the state’s sanctuary laws, and California has faced a number of high-profile immigration sweeps as deportation officers go looking for illegal immigrants they are now banned from picking up from prisons and jails.
The governor said President Trump’s plans to restrict the chain of family migration and his other immigration goals would undercut California’s economy, which he said has been the engine of growth for the entire U.S.
“Is this a war on California?” the governor wondered.
While California has taken the lead in opposing Mr. Trump on immigration, the guard issue is the most acute fight right now.
Mr. Brown last week had sent a letter saying he would deploy 400 more guard troops, but listed restrictions on what they could do. This week it became clear those restrictions were drawn so tightly that the troops couldn’t be used.
After Mr. Brown’s letter last week Mr. Trump posted on Twitter congratulating the governor. On Tuesday, after the governor’s backtrack, Mr. Trump’s tune changed as well.
“Looks like Jerry Brown and California are not looking for safety and security along their very porous Border. He cannot come to terms for the National Guard to patrol and protect the Border,” the president wrote. “The high crime rate will only get higher. Much wanted Wall in San Diego already started!”
Mr. Brown said Tuesday he appreciated the president’s original support and said he still thinks they’ll find an agreement.
“I think we’ve already come to terms as far as I understand,” he said.
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