President Trump Signs Proclamation Sending National Guard to Southern Border
By Heather Ham-Warren | April 6, 2018
It is no secret that President Trump is disappointed with the FY 2018 spending package. At a televised signing ceremony last month, the president chastised Congress for failing to fund his border wall and threatened to veto any future omnibus packages. However, at that same ceremony, the president applauded lawmakers for the legislation’s hefty increase in military spending. For the past several days the president has fueled speculation that he intends to use some of that increase to deploy members of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Yesterday, at a White House press briefing, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen said that the decision was being formalized via presidential proclamation. “The president has directed that the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security work together with our governors to deploy the National Guard to our southwest border,” the secretary said before indicating that deployments are imminent.
It is, undoubtedly, the role of the federal government to prevent the entry of terrorists, secure our national borders, and carry out immigration enforcement functions. Generally speaking, the military does not have primary jurisdiction in these matters. However, there is precedent for presidents utilizing military support in border regions when necessary.
In 2006, President George W. Bush deployed 6,000 National Guard troops to the southern border including to locations in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The activity, referred to as Operation Jump Start, led to 186,814 illegal alien apprehensions and over 300,000 pounds of marijuana seized. Similarly, in 2010, President Barack Obama initiated Operation Phalanx, which deployed up to 1,200 troops and resulted in the apprehension of over 17,000 illegal aliens and over 56,000 pounds of marijuana.
While details outlining the National Guard’s role are limited, Secretary Nielsen says that the administration is working closely with the governors of all four border states to ensure that the needs of Border Patrol in each state are properly addressed. Additionally, due to restrictions in place since enactment of the Posse Comitatus Act, (which prohibits use of the Armed Forces to perform the tasks of civilian law enforcement unless explicitly authorized by Congress) it is likely that the deployed guardsmen will act in a strictly supportive role. Theoretically, having the additional support will allow Border Patrol agents time for more substantive activities, including the apprehension and detention of those who try to come here illegally.
It is no secret that since President Trump took office, Congress has failed to enact a single piece of immigration enforcement legislation. As a result, President Trump is acting within his authority to secure our borders and protect Americans citizens. Nonetheless, this stopgap proclamation is no substitute for Congressional action. Will lawmakers finally step up to the plate? We’ll see.