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border drama
March 28, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security is "grappling with a humanitarian and security catastrophe that is worsening by the day," DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wrote in a letter sent to Congress on Thursday, arguing she needs assistance dealing with the surge in migrants at the southern border.

In the letter, obtained by ABC News, Nielsen says the majority of migrants are families and unaccompanied minors "who pose a unique challenge to the system because most cannot be easily cared for, efficiently processed, or expeditiously removed, due to resource constraints and outdated laws."

She requested new legal authority to immediately deport unaccompanied minors to their home countries, ABC reports, and to detain undocumented migrant families together until asylum claims go through. "Now we face a system-wide meltdown," Nielsen wrote. "DHS facilities are overflowing, agents and officers are stretched too thin, and the magnitude of arriving and detained aliens has increased the risk of life-threatening incidents." Catherine Garcia

February 11, 2019

On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will order roughly 360 National Guard members pulled from the Mexico border, joining New Mexico in withdrawing service members deployed at President Trump's request last year. Newsom will redeploy the troops to help Cal Fire prepare for the coming wildfire season, fight drug cartels, and focus on other "real threats facing our state," according an excerpt of Tuesday's State of the State address sent to the Los Angeles Times. A small National Guard contingent redeployed to intelligence operations against drug cartels will be stationed at California's international points of entry.

"The border 'emergency' is a manufactured crisis," Newsom will say Tuesday, according to prepared remarks. "This is our answer to the White House: No more division, xenophobia or nativism." Former Gov. Jerry Brown (D) deployed about 400 California National Guard members to the border 10 months ago at Trump's request, but stipulated that they could neither enforce immigration laws or build border barrier. The deployment was still criticized by Democrats as freeing up federal border agents to enact Trump's hardline immigration policies. Trump plans to deploy another 3,750 U.S. military troops to the border, which Newsom pointed to as another reason to pull the National Guard for other uses. Peter Weber

February 7, 2019

While some communities might be thrilled with the U.S. Army draping dangerous, unsightly, and what they view as unnecessary concertina wire throughout town, the residents of Nogales, Arizona, are not. On Wednesday night, the Nogales City Council passed a resolution condemning the installation of rows of razor wire along the border fence downtown as "not only irresponsible but inhuman," arguing that such wire "is only found in a war, prison, or battle setting," and asking the federal government to remove all concertina wire from within city limits. If not, Mayor Arturo Garino says, Nogales will sue.

Nogales, a town of 20,000, is reliant on trade with its much larger sister city of Nogales, Mexico, right across the border. "That wire is lethal, and I really don’t know what they’re thinking by putting it all the way down to the ground," Garino told Nogales International on Monday. On Wednesday, he told The Associated Press: "Aesthetically pleasing, it's not. It's very bad. It's not good for business, it's not good for what we're trying to create, a business-friendly community here in Nogales."

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said extra wire was added last weekend after a request "for additional support in high-risk urban areas commonly exploited by criminal smuggling organizations" — it did not say who made that request — and that "signage in Spanish and English has been put in place warning individuals of these dangers and prohibiting access." On Tuesday night, President Trump claimed there was a "tremendous onslaught" on America's "lawless" border, specifically mentioning El Paso, Texas — which was among the safest U.S. cities even before border fencing was installed a decade ago.

The concertina wire is just "more stunts from Trump administration trying to create the perception of rampant lawlessness and crime, but Nogales residents aren't buying it," Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) tweeted Tuesday. "The only 'crisis' at the border is the humanitarian one created by his disastrous policies." Peter Weber

October 31, 2018

President Trump on Wednesday told reporters that 15,000 U.S. troops could ultimately be deployed to the southern border.

The Pentagon had been planning on sending "more than 7,000" troops to assist Border Patrol agents. The number of troops being deployed goes up the closer it gets to Election Day on Nov. 6, however; last week, only 800 to 1,000 troops were getting ready to go to the border, and that number jumped to 5,200 on Monday.

Trump, who has been working to mobilize his base, insists the troops need to head to the border as a caravan of Central American migrants makes its way through Mexico. The caravan of some 4,000 migrants is about 1,000 miles away from the border, and it's unclear how many of those people might try to apply for asylum in the U.S. Many are fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries.

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Wednesday rejected the idea that the military is being politicized, saying: "We don't do stunts." There are 15,000 or so U.S. service members in Afghanistan, and about 5,000 stationed in Iraq. Catherine Garcia

May 25, 2018

The president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing 15,000 Border Patrol agents, said that the deployment of National Guard troops ordered by President Trump has had "no benefit" and is a "colossal waste of resources."

The union endorsed Trump when he was running for president, and union president Brandon Judd told the Los Angeles Times that his members "generally support the administration, but we're not going to be cheerleading when things are not going well." In April, Trump directed that National Guard troops be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist agents, but "they're not allowed to be in the public eye," Judd said. "They're not allowed to be in our lookout and observation posts, even in Texas."

There are about 1,600 National Guard troops at the border, and they have been operating surveillance cameras and offering air support; Border Patrol Acting Chief Carla Provost said officials decided that was a better use of their time. In some cases, Border Patrol agents have to leave their posts to assist National Guard troops who aren't familiar with the area, the Times reports, and it has become a burden on the agents. The deployment is expected to cost $220 million to $252 million through end of the year, a Defense Department spokesman said. Catherine Garcia

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