President Donald Trump’s plan to deploy National Guard troops to the Mexico border has drawn resistance from some governors, most of them Democrats, but they could be powerless to deny the commander in chief’s request for soldiers.
Governors have some leeway to say no to presidents, but depending on which federal law Trump uses to order the deployment, the matter could be out of the governors’ hands.
A statute known as Title 10 establishes that National Guard personnel operate under the president’s control and receive federal pay and benefits. It also forbids them from performing tasks of civilian law enforcement unless explicitly authorized, according to the Congressional Research Service.
If the orders are given under another federal law called Title 32, governors retain command and control of Guard members from their state, with the federal government paying for the deployment.
Trump said Thursday that he wants to send 2,000 to 4,000 Guard members to the border to help federal officials fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Twitter that she had a “productive conversation” about the deployment with governors of the Southwest border states.
On Friday, North Dakota’s Republican governor joined leaders of some border states in saying he would send forces if asked. The GOP governors of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas also back the plan. Arizona and Texas moved quickly to put their troops in motion. California’s Democratic governor has been silent on the issue.
It’s unclear if Trump will ask for troops from states other than those along the border.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders described the deployment as “a good first step.” If the administration determines that more troops are needed, “we’ll make that decision at that time.”
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said his state would “answer the call,” just as it has done in other times of need, like historic floods.
“We North Dakotans know from experience how critical it is for states to support each other in times of need,” Burgum said.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, also a Republican, on Friday became one of the latest leaders to oppose Trump’s plan. His spokeswoman, Mary-Sarah Kinner, said in an email that Sandoval does not believe the mission would be “an appropriate use” of the Nevada Guard.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has said she would deny Trump’s request.
“As commander of Oregon’s Guard, I’m deeply troubled by Trump’s plan to militarize our border,” Brown tweeted.
Her spokesman, Bryan Hockaday, acknowledged she might not have a say.
Trump “can federalize the National Guard forces, and there’s not much the governor can do to prevent that,” Hockaday said.
However, if a National Guard mission were ordered under Title 32, the protocol would be different. In that scenario, a governor could try to reject a request for troops or order Guard members to remain in rear staging areas and not participate.
“If the president were to deploy under Title 32, he’d obviously have to have the approval of the governor,” Hockaday said, citing an assessment from the governor’s attorney. Lawyers reviewed all the pertinent legal provisions as soon as Brown’s office heard the announcement about the deployment plan, he added.
In Arizona’s case, the deployment will happen under Title 32, said Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, who has endorsed the deployment.
About 150 Guard members will deploy next week, Ducey said. Texas officials expected to release details of their deployment plans later Friday evening.
While California Gov. Jerry Brown has not spoken publicly about Trump’s plan, California National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Keegan said any request “will be promptly reviewed to determine how best we can assist our federal partners.”
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, said Friday that she will consult with the head of the Alabama Guard to see what resources are available.
The deployments will not be the first time the National Guard has gone to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Almost every U.S. state and territory contributed Guard members to Operation Jump Start, announced by President George W. Bush in 2006. Around 30,000 Guard members eventually participated, according to a 2008 National Guard analysis, including more than 1,000 each from Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.
During Operation Phalanx, ordered by President Barack Obama in 2010, 1,200 Guard members deployed to the border, most of them from Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas.
In the mid-1980s, National Guard troops were deployed even farther south, in Honduras, where they carried out military maneuvers. The missions happened as Sandinista forces in neighboring Nicaragua battled Contra rebels who were backed by Washington and had clandestine bases in Honduras.
Associated Press writers Doug Glass in Minneapolis, Nomaan Merchant in Dallas and Jonathan Cooper in Sacramento, California, contributed to this report.
Follow Andrew Selsky on Twitter at https://twitter.com/andrewselsky
Source: Associated Press