One hundred and fifty members of the Arizona National Guard will be deployed along the United States border with Mexico in the coming week, said state Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday.
The announcement, made over Twitter and through an official briefing, will be the first military posting in President Donald Trump’s grand plan to curb illegal immigration.
“Our office is working closely with @AZNationalGuard, @DeptofDefense and @DHSgov on plans to deploy approximately 150 national guard members to the border next week,” wrote Ducey on Twitter. The governor, reports Politico.com, said the move would be made in coordination with the national Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
Since the beginning of the week, President Trump has been hinting at an increasingly militarized border. Condemning Mexico for its failure to stop a Central American ‘caravan’ of migrants, the commander-in-chief suggested posting troops along the frontier.
On Wednesday, Trump signed an official proclamation directing administration officials to muster the National Guard in the Southwest.
The controversial decision follows the example of Barack Obama and presidents past, several of whom made use of the Guard to secure the porous U.S.-Mexico border. Initial indications had suggested that Trump may have briefly considered dispatching the Army or Marine Corps – a proposition which set some legislators and military leaders on edge.
If President Trump has his way, next week’s planned deployment of 150 troops will constitute only a small portion of the total military presence along the border. Speaking from aboard Air Force One on Thursday, the commander-in-chief said he hoped to see anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 guardsmen posted along the border.
Normalcy, said Trump, would be restored once a larger, more secure border wall could be erected. Until then, all of those troops – “or a large portion of them” – would be kept on migrant patrol.
Trump’s two immediate predecessors, writes Politico.com, both made extensive use of the National Guard to combat illegal migration from Mexico and Central America. Bush sent some 6,000 troops to the assistance of Customs and Border Patrol while Obama dispatched 1,200 in 2010.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielson said the role played by National Guard troops will be similar to their past border operations, assisting with aerial surveillance missions and acting to supplement current patrols.
Trump’s decision to deploy seems to have been prompted at least in part by news of a thousand-man migrant caravan moving from the southern reaches of Mexico to the U.S. border. On Thursday, the president announced that the Mexican government made major steps to disband the party while maintaining that the rate of illegal border crossings remains too high.
“The Caravan is largely broken up thanks to the strong immigration laws of Mexico and their willingness to use them so as not to cause a giant scene at our Border,” wrote Trump online. “Because of the Trump Administration actions, Border crossings are at a still UNACCEPTABLE 46 year low. Stop drugs!”