California Gov. Gavin Newsom to pull National Guard from California’s border with Mexico

Gov. Gavin Newsom is rescinding former Gov. Jerry Brown’s deployment of California National Guard troops to the Mexican border, pulling most of the 360 troops off their current missions but leaving some in the area to combat transnational drug smuggling.

“The border ’emergency’ is a manufactured crisis,” Newsom will say during his State of the State address Tuesday morning, according to advance excerpts provided by his office. “And California will not be part of this political theater.”

Earlier this month, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham ordered the majority of her state’s National Guard troops at the border to withdraw.

Each of the 50 states, three territories and the District of Columbia maintain National Guard units. During peacetime, the Guard is under the command of each state governor and adjutant general and typically is called upon to respond to emergencies and natural disasters. In times of war, the president can place the Guard under military command.

The recent National Guard deployment to the Southern border is something of a hybrid. Federal authorities asked governors to provide Guard troops to assist with border security. The federal government is paying the cost of deployment. But the Guard troops remain under the authority of their state governor and adjutant general.

The California governor is splitting the troops up into three new deployments in a move he will tell lawmakers will allow the National Guard to “refocus on the real threats facing our state”:

  • 110 troops to support Cal Fire’s wildfire prevention and suppression efforts. Unlike the current deployment, which is funded by the federal government, the state will need to foot the bill for this new mission.
  • At least 150 troops to expand the California National Guard’s statewide Counterdrug Task Force — if the Trump administration’s Department of Defense agrees to fund the expansion.
  • 100 troops for intelligence operations targeting drug cartels. The governor’s office says some of these troops who are “specially trained counter-narcotic screeners” will be deployed to California orts of entry — both at the Mexican border and elsewhere. The governor’s office says funding for this mission will continue to come from the federal government under the terms of the previous deployment agreed to by the Brown and Trump administrations.

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