SAN DIEGO – The Border Patrol welcomed on Monday about 50 California National Guard troops who will work in backup roles to help provide border security along the US-Mexico frontier in accord with restrictive conditions on their deployment imposed by the state government.
The first 51 troops dubbed Operation Guardian Support were formally welcomed on the border as part of the cooperative effort with the Border Patrol, which will remain in the area at least until the end of the current fiscal year in September.
Gloria Chavez, the Border Patrol chief in the El Centro sector, said that the soldiers will be unarmed, serve solely in support roles “behind the scenes” performing logistical and administrative tasks and will not arrest any suspected unauthorized immigrants, weapons smugglers, drug smugglers or other criminal suspects.
“They’ll be working cameras. They’ll be working in offices. They’ll be conducting intelligence analysis. They’ll also be helping us with road infrastructure with regards to vegetation and road clearing and such but it’ll never be a frontline border security assignment or task,” she said at a press conference.
“Their job is going to be behind the scenes, providing us that critical support that today Border Patrol agents do. Where I need my Border Patrol agents is on the frontline, doing the patrols, doing the interdictions of anything that crosses that border,” Chavez added.
Each day, the Border Patrol detains an average of 80 people along the El Centro stretch of the border, which runs for about 70 miles (113 kilometers) between California and Mexico, according to figures supplied by the agency.
In April, President Donald Trump ordered the deployment of the National Guard to reinforce security along the international border.
However, that same month California Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to deploy the troops only if they were to be engaged in tasks to combat transnational crime and not in the construction of Trump’s much-touted border wall or in intercepting undocumented migrants who cross the border.
Currently, about 800 National Guard troops are voluntarily collaborating with US authorities in the border region from California to Texas in response to Trump’s order.