US immigration

Donald Trump to send National Guard to US border with Mexico

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said: ‘It’s time to act’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 April, 2018, 11:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 April, 2018, 7:02am

US President Donald Trump is directing the National Guard to protect the southern border of the country, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Wednesday.  

“It’s time to act,” Nielsen said, without specifying the number of troops that would be deployed though she said, “it will be strong.”

She added that details would be worked out with governors and that “we do hope that the deployment begins immediately”.  

The move follows Trump’s warning on Tuesday to Mexican leaders that the United States would abandon the North American Free Trade Agreement if he did not get assurances of help on securing the border. 

Nielsen said that her department sees dangerous levels of illegal immigration and drug trafficking across the border. 

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Trump plans to sign a proclamation on Wednesday directing the US Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to work with governors to deploy National Guard units to the border, Nielsen said.  

She said the National Guard troops would act as “support” for border patrol agents.  

“Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong,” Trump said Wednesday in a Twitter posting. 

“Congress must change these Obama era, and other, laws NOW! The Democrats stand in our way – they want people to pour into our country unchecked....CRIME! We will be taking strong action today.”  

A senior White House official also said that the Trump administration is drafting legislation to make it harder for refugees to gain asylum in the US and loosen restrictions on undocumented immigrants apprehended near the border. 

Since the weekend, Trump has tweeted and talked about border security following reports that more than 1,000 Central Americans, most from Honduras, are travelling north toward the US southern border with the help of “Pueblo Sin Fronteras”, a group that has organised several similar “refugee caravans” in recent years. 

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Trump has faced pressure from immigration hawks to show that he remains committed to their cause after signing a government spending bill last month that fell far short of the goals he had set for new border wall construction this year.  

The US Defense Department has in the past helped the Department of Homeland Security with border security measures, and George W. Bush and Barack Obama both deployed National Guard troops to the border during their presidencies to bolster security. 

Obama announced in May 2010 that as many as 1,200 national guard troops would help patrol fenced areas of the border, in addition to extra customs and border agents.