Under President Donald Trump’s plan to send military troops to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security would consult with the governors of border states to decide how many National Guard troops are needed.
Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of DHS, made this announcement during a White House briefing on Wednesday.
NM Political Report asked Gov. Susana Martinez’s office if she supports deploying troops along the border and if she had spoken with the White House about these plans. Her office did not respond by press time despite three emails to her public information officers.
Nielsen’s announcement clarified Trump’s earlier statements that he would be “guarding our border with our military.”
New Mexico U.S. Senator Tom Udall criticized Trump’s proposed action in a statement on Wednesday. The Democrat said it was “another pitiful attempt to distract attention from the dangerous chaos the president is creating, including disruption in the stock market, a trade war with China, saber rattling with North Korea, numerous accusations of sexual misconduct by the president, mounting news reports that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and others in his cabinet are improperly spending taxpayer dollars on themselves while doling out favors to their industry campaign donors, and of course, Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and evidence that it plans to do the same in November.”
U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich said on Twitter it showed that Trump “is grossly out of touch with [the] reality of our experience in NM.”
Despite Trump’s assertions that illegal border crossings are a problem, they are at their lowest level since 1971 according to CBS News.
DHS reported Wednesday that the numbers of those apprehended at the border spiked upwards recently.
Past presidents have ordered National Guard troops to the border before, including President Barack Obama in 2010 and President George W. Bush in 2006. According to the Washington Post, Obama ordered 1,200 National Guard troops to the border to combat drug trafficking, while Bush committed 6,000 National Guard troops to combat illegal immigration.
Trump’s order comes after media reports, including on Fox News, about a caravan of more than 1,000 people fleeing Central America through Mexico. Mexican officials already dispersed the caravan while vetting to see which would be allowed to stay and seek asylum and which would be returned to their countries of origin.
If Martinez agrees to send National Guard troops to the border, it wouldn’t be the first time New Mexico has done so: In 2010, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson ordered National Guard troops to the border to aid in border enforcement.
Last year, the White House denied a plan based on a draft report that would have allowed National Guard troops to aid in rounding up those in the country illegally.
Correction: A reference to the Posse Comitatus Act from a previous version of this story was kept in this story. That has been removed.
Update: Added information from DHS on recent numbers of those apprehended crossing the border.