On April 4, 2018, President Trump released a policy memorandum that directs the use of National Guard troops at the southern border. According to the memo, “the situation at the border has now reached a point of crisis.” The President highlights a “drastic surge” of illegal activity, including the inflow of contraband, dangerous gang activity and illegal immigration, as threatening to overwhelm the nation’s law enforcement capabilities. The White House hopes that calling in the troops will help alleviate these struggles.
So, just how many troops will be sent to the Mexico-U.S. border? President Trump stated that he is considering sending anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000, but the actual number has yet to be determined. The memo directs the Secretary of Defense to request the use of National Guard personnel from state governors. Technically, the federal government will be funding this operation, but there is no guarantee that each state will send troops. State governors are not required to comply with the federal government’s request. After all, the President is “requesting” that each state send in the National Guard; he’s not “ordering” them to do so. The governor of Montana has already refused to send Montana National Guard personnel to the southern border.
Keep in mind, this isn’t the first time a sitting President has called on the National Guard to support federal authorities at the border. In 2006, President George W. Bush initiated Operation Jump Start which called on state governors to send military personnel to assist CBP with border security and to construct a border fence. Overall, 6,000 National Guard soldiers were sent to the southern borders of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Then, in 2014, President Barack Obama rolled out Operation Phalanx which again called upon the National Guard to assist the Department of Homeland Security with border security. From July 2010 through December 2016, 1,200 National Guard soldiers and airmen were sent to the border.
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