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

Thieves target Sooke school’s emergency supplies

Journey middle school victims for a second time

Hundreds go for punches at Sooke Slam Stiff Jab

500 fans took in the Sooke Boxing Club’s Sooke Slam Stiff Jab card on Saturday night

Physician assistants say they can help B.C. health care woes

Reducing wait times, improving doctor efficiency is the goal

Two people sent to hospital in View Royal crash

Crash on Island Highway near Six Mile Road snarled the evening commute

2 charged for feeding bear Tim Horton’s timbits

Court documents show that Randy Scott and Megan Hiltz have both been charged with feeding or attempting to feed dangerous wildlife.

VIDEO: First legal cannabis purchases as midnight strikes in eastern Canada

Newfoundland and Labrador was the first province to kick off the sale of cannabis, just after midnight local time

Advance voting begins Oct. 10 in Greater Victoria

The polls open at 8 a.m. for the 2018 municipal election with the general election taking place Oct. 20

Find your future at Black Press career fair in Victoria

More than 70 booths expected at Bay Street Armoury on Oct. 25

Boeser tallies in OT as Canucks beat Penguins 3-2

Vancouver wins without star rookie Pettersson

Mayor of Kamloops says ‘history has been made’ with vote on B.C.’s lone pot shop

The store to be run by the province in B.C.’s Interior is opening Wednesday as pot sales become legal across Canada

New bus route to ‘replace’ Greyhound along Trans-Canada Highway

Rider Express Transportation says they will soon begin a bus service from Winnipeg to Vancouver

U.S. pot firm urges Trump to deny Canadian producers ‘competitive advantage’

The challenge for U.S. firms lies in the fact that while recreational cannabis is legal in nine states and medicinal pot in 22 others, it remains illegal under federal law

Government says imprisoned Canadian terror suspects must face consequences

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale showed little sympathy Tuesday for such individuals who now want to return to Canada

How rules for inmate segregation in Canada will change under Bill C-83

Federal government proposing changes to rules around inmates in federal correctional institutions

Most Read