The California National Guard will continue supporting Border Patrol through at least March, officials announced late Friday.
In April, Gov. Jerry Brown approved a White House request for troops and authorized up to 400 members of the National Guard to work in support roles targeting transnational crime. The initial agreement between the Trump administration and the state of California lasted through the end of September, and Brown on Friday extended the agreement for an additional six months.
The mission, Operation Guardian Support, is to “combat criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers” within the state of California and at the border, according to Lt. Col. Tom Keegan, spokesman for the California National Guard.
The troops are stationed in San Diego, El Centro and Riverside and funded by the federal government.
President Donald Trump called for military support at the border after reports of a now-famous migrant caravan heading to the U.S. to ask for asylum.
While other governors responded almost immediately to Trump’s request, Brown negotiated with the Department of Homeland Security in April before agreeing to send troops.
In a letter to Trump administration officials when he first authorized the National Guard deployment, Brown clarified that the soldiers were not to be used for immigration enforcement.
“This will not be a mission to build a new wall,” Brown wrote in April. “It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life. And the California National Guard will not be enforcing federal immigration laws.”
That restriction still applies.
However, troops from Operation Guardian Support have assisted in Border Patrol agents in apprehending people crossing illegally into the U.S. As first reported by
“Voice of San Diego,” court documents for those charged with illegal entry under the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy reveal that in at least some cases, soldiers monitoring patrol cameras have helped agents find groups of people illegally entering the country.
The first troops for Operation Guardian Support arrived at the California border in mid-May.
Other presidents have sent National Guard to the border. Under former President George W. Bush, members of the National Guard were stationed along the border for about 2 years beginning in 2006, and under former President Barack Obama, troops assisted at the border for about a year in 2010.