President Trump gave an estimate on Thursday of how many of National Guardsmen will be sent to the southern border to boost border security.
Anywhere from 2000 to 4000 troops will be deployed to the border, Trump told reporters on Air Force One, according to a White House pool report.
“We’ll probably keep them, or a large portion of them, until such time as we get the wall,” he said.
“Until we can have a wall and proper security we’re going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” Trump said earlier this week at the White House.
The troops will assist Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials with issues like surveillance but are not expected to perform law enforcement functions themselves.
The Republican governors of border states New Mexico, Texas and Arizona have agreed to send their National Guard troops.
“In my time as Governor, Texas has maintained a continuous presence of National Guard members along the border, and we’ve added hundreds of permanent Department of Public Safety troopers to the region,” said Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican.
But the White House has received only radio silence from Democratic governor Jerry Brown of California, who has not yet indicated whether he will comply with the request. Governor Kate Brown of Oregon, also a Democrat, said her state would refuse to send any troops if asked.
Democratic New Mexico senator Tom Udall slammed the move as “another pitiful attempt to distract attention from the dangerous chaos the president is creating.”
Former presidents, including Barack Obama and George W. Bush also deployed the National Guard to the border.
So far Congress has set aside only $1.6 billion to repair existing parts of the fencing along parts of the border. The entire wall is projected to cost around $25 billion.