One-hundred and fifty National Guard members will be dispatched to the U.S.-Mexico border next week, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said on Friday, the first troop deployment announced as part of President Donald Trump’s plan to curb illegal immigration into the U.S.
“Our office is working closely with @AZNationalGuard, @DeptofDefense and @DHSgov on plans to deploy approximately 150 national guard members to the border next week,” Ducey, a Republican, wrote on Twitter. The governor said the move would be made in conjunction with the state’s National Guard, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.
The president on Wednesday signed a proclamation directing administration officials to prepare to deploy the National Guard to the southern U.S. border, an initiative announced as part of Trump’s plan to tighten border security.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Wednesday that the timing of troop deployment was still “being finalized” but that officials were “working with all haste” to implement the measure. The DHS chief said officials were looking to deploy National Guard members “immediately” but declined to outline a specific timetable, saying the decision would be made in conjunction with state officials.
Though the Trump administration did not originally specify how many troops would be deployed, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday that the number could be anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000. Trump said the plan was to keep troops along the border or at least “a large portion of them” until his administration could deliver on its promise of building a wall.
Trump said that all the troops “or a large portion of them” would be kept along the border until a wall was built.
Trump’s two immediate predecessors, Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, also deployed troops to the border. Bush sent roughly 6,000 armed National Guard members to assist Customs and Border Protection officials from 2006 to 2008. Obama sent about 1,200 National Guard members to the border, primarily to help with surveillance, in 2010.
Nielsen said the troops would serve functions similar to those they performed along the border under past administrations, including assisting in aerial surveillance and providing support functions to current patrol officials.