Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced Wednesday that President Donald Trump will sign an order Wednesday to deploy the U.S. National Guard to the southwest U.S.-Mexico border to assist border patrol agents.
The announcement comes one day after the president told reporters that he wanted to militarize the border during the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“We have very bad laws for our border, and we are going to be doing some things—I’ve been speaking with General 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. That’s a big step. We really haven’t done that before—certainly not very much before,” Trump said on Tuesday.
The move follows several statements Trump has made in recent days regarding immigration, including calling off a solution to give undocumented immigrants who arrived as children a pathway to citizenship.
Trump has also demanded Mexico break up the caravan of hundreds of Central Americans traveling to the U.S., and falsely asserted that the group was coming to take advantage of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which it would not be able to do under the program’s parameters.
Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 1, 2018
Later Tuesday, Trump shared a clip of himself speaking at the U.S.-Baltic Summit, asserting that he had a meeting with Defense Secretary James Mattis “in a little while” to discuss the militarization of the border.
WE WILL PROTECT OUR SOUTHERN BORDER! pic.twitter.com/Z7fqQKcnez
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2018
“The Mexican border is very unprotected by our laws. We have horrible, horrible and very unsafe laws in the United States, and we’re going to be able to do something about that, hopefully soon,” Trump said. “We are preparing for the military to secure our border between Mexico and the United States. We have a meeting on it in a little while with General Mattis and everybody. And I think that it’s something we have to do.”
During a phone press briefing on Wednesday, senior Trump administration officials said that Trump has ordered for the U.S. National Guard to work in support with U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents along the southwestern U.S.-Mexico border. While the two officials said that the military enforcement of the border was “happening very rapidly,” they did not have a definite date for when National Guard members would be deployed, nor an idea of how many people would be deployed and in which areas along the border.
One of the officials also said the administration would be taking steps in the “very near future” to send Congress a legislative package with the intention of closing immigration “loopholes” to “return immigrants in responsible and expeditious manner.” The officials said they would not be more specific about operational details at this time.
Currently, officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection enforce security within 100 miles of any point along the U.S. border, encompassing major cities along the southern border including San Antonio and El Paso in Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Tucson, Arizona; and San Diego, California.
Both former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama employed troops to the border. From 2006 to 2008, at most 6,000 National Guard members aided border patrol efforts. Then in 2010, 1,200 members of the Guard surveilled the border fence.
H/T the Hill
This article has been updated.