National News

Governors cite Trump policies in recalling, refusing to send National Guard to border

Posted June 19, 2018 2:41 p.m. EDT
Updated June 19, 2018 3:50 p.m. EDT

Members of the National Guard at an outpost along the Rio Grande in Starr County, Tex., April 10, 2018. While troops are allowed to look across the border with their eyes, the rules on electronic surveillance place a significant restriction on the monitoring capability that federal officials have said is key to securing the border. (Lynsey Addario/The New York Times) — NO SALES —

National Guard troops in seven states will not deploy to the southern border, the states’ governors announced this week, over mounting objections to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents there.

The governors of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut asserted their opposition by declaring that they will withhold or recall troops from the United States’ border with Mexico, adding their names to widening outrage over the policy.

President Donald Trump called in April for the National Guard to help secure the border, saying that thousands of troops were needed to stanch illegal crossings, even though they are at a 46-year low. Few governors outside the Southwest immediately embraced the plan.

"The cruel policy of tearing children away from their parents requires a strong response, and I am recalling the three members of the North Carolina National Guard from the border," Democratic North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement.

The state also was bringing home a helicopter.

"Today I'm recalling four Virginia National Guard soldiers and one helicopter from Arizona," Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in a tweet. "Virginia will not devote any resource to border enforcement actions that support the inhumane policy of separating children from their parents."

“Until this policy of separating children from their families has been rescinded, Maryland will not deploy any National Guard resources to the border,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, said Tuesday. “Earlier this morning, I ordered our four crew members & helicopter to immediately return from where they were stationed in New Mexico.”

Hogan and several of the other governors are up for re-election this year. Their decisions, while all in defiance of Trump’s immigration crackdown at the border, were largely symbolic, as their states were not among those that had been planning to send large numbers of troops in the first place.

Gov. Gina M. Raimondo of Rhode Island said Tuesday that she had not been asked to send soldiers to the border, but if she were, she would decline.

“The Trump administration’s family separation policy is immoral, unjust and un-American,” Raimondo, a Democrat, said in a news release. “I will not deploy units from the Rhode Island National Guard to the southern border to support the administration’s policy that is ripping families apart.”

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, like Hogan a Republican in a left-leaning state, had pledged to deploy two Guard troops and a helicopter. But that plan was scrapped.

“It’s cruel and inhumane, and we told the National Guard to hold steady and to not go down to the border, period,” Baker said Monday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, said he would not dispatch troops. “New York will not be party to this inhumane treatment of immigrant families,” he said in a news release.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut, also a Democrat, said he would not deploy troops if his state was asked to participate in anything “connected to this inhumane practice.”

In Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order that barred state resources from being used to help immigration authorities separate children from their parents.

“We are very clear that this is not something that is acceptable,” Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said Monday. “It’s hard for me to imagine that this is happening in the United States of America at the scale it is — at any scale.”

During April and May, federal authorities separated at least 1,995 children from parents facing criminal prosecution for unlawfully crossing the border, the Trump administration announced Friday, as opposition began to mount. Over the weekend and into this week, the administration’s separation policy has become front-page news and dominated coverage on cable programs, leading members of both parties to express concern.

Trump and two members of his Cabinet have forcefully defended the policy this week, with the president once again making the false accusation that only the Democrats, the minority party, were to blame for it. The law does not require authorities to separate children.

Before Monday, Massachusetts had joined several states, mostly those in the South and led by Republican leaders, in support of the president’s order to dispatch thousands of troops to the border. In Texas, which shares a 1,200-mile border with Mexico, Gov. Greg Abbott has pledged up to 1,400 troops, the largest contingent of all the states. The Defense Department has authorized up to 4,000 soldiers to be assigned to the border.

Several governors refused the request at the outset. The Democratic governors of Oregon and Vermont both said days after Trump’s order that they would not comply if they were asked to send troops. Gov. Jerry Brown of California, also a Democrat, dispatched some soldiers to his southern border but limited their roles, angering the president.