Governors around the country are refusing to send their state's National Guard troops to the border while the Trump administration continues its policy of separating undocumented children from their parents.
President Donald Trump asked for states to contribute National Guard resources to assist with immigration enforcement in April. But the National Guard can only provide tactical or indirect support. Those troops can’t enforce immigration laws — and can’t be involved at all without the approval of state governors.
So far, at least three governors have pulled National Guard resources from the border, and seven are refusing to send any at all in response to the administration's “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which effectively separates children from their parents.
And two of the states, Massachusetts and Maryland, are led by Republican governors.
Of the states that continue to support the National Guard efforts at the border, one blue state is particularly notable: California, which has acted as a bastion for the Trump resistance. Gov. Jerry Brown’s office told VICE News he’s reviewing the situation but won’t pull National Guard resources from the border just yet. The state currently has about 250 National Guard troops deployed at the border. Brown, however, has been vocal about his opposition to the “zero tolerance” policy, calling it “callous” and “insensitive.”
Here’s how governors from around the country are reacting to the family separation policy.
Republican governors are withholding resources
The Republican governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan, pulled support for National Guard deployments at the border, and in Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said he won’t be sending any.
Hogan had four Guard soldiers and one helicopter at the border helping out. While he ordered them to return on Monday, he also echoed the Trump administration’s false talking point that Congress needs to step up to keep families together. Instead, the Trump administration could repeal its own “zero tolerance” policy, which requires that Border Patrol arrest adults who illegally cross the border.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Baker told local news that he would not be sending troops to the border — “period.” Baker did not have troops deployed at the border.
“It’s cruel and inhumane, and I told the National Guard to hold steady and not go down to the border — period,” Baker said. “So we won’t be supporting that initiative unless they change their policy.”
But several other Republican governors have decided to stand by the president or lament the family separation policy without commenting on National Guard support.
A spokesperson for Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner told VICE News that he doesn’t support family separation at the border, but wouldn’t comment on whether Rauner would send troops to the border if asked to. He had previously said that he would.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who has strong support from President Trump in his re-election campaign, said he would keep his National Guard troops deployed, and that he continues to support the administration’s immigration policy.
At least 3 states governors are pulling back troops
In addition to Maryland, the Democratic governors of Virginia and North Carolina made the call to bring troops back from the border.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Monday that he’s recalling four soldiers and a helicopter deployed to help out with border security.
In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper has withdrawn three soldiers working at the border. He, too, called the policy of family separation “cruel.”
"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,” he told local news.
7 state governors have said they won’t send troops
The governors of Oregon, Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware have all spoken out against the family separation policy at the border and pledged not to lend their resources until the Trump administration revokes its “zero tolerance” policy.
These states don’t currently have a National Guard presence at the border, but many had previously agreed to send troops, if asked to.
Cover image: National Guard troop watches over Rio Grande River on the border in Roma, Texas, on April 10, 2018. (AP Photo/John Mone, File)