One day after President Donald Trump warned that his administration was “going to be doing things militarily,” Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced on Wednesday that National Guard troops would be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border.
"The president has directed that the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security work together with our governors to deploy the National Guard to our southwest border," Nielsen said. Trump is expected to sign a proclamation to officiate the order.
“It's our expectation that the National Guard will deploy personnel in support of CBP's border security mission," Nielsen said, adding that plans were still being "finalized." The secretary said she would not "provide the full details" yet.
The announcement follows Trump's remarks during a recent meeting with visiting Baltic leaders, in which he claimed that he had been speaking with Secretary of Defense James Mattis about "doing things militarily."
“Until we can have a wall and proper security, we’re going to be guarding our border with the military, Trump said at the White House on Tuesday. "That’s a big step. We really haven’t done that before — or certainly not very much before.”
Then followed a string of events on Twitter, where Trump has been actively ranting about delivering his campaign promise of stricter border control. The president asserted there was a heightened for doing so after reports surfaced that a "caravan" of migrants from Honduras was traveling through Mexico.
The story had been reported by Trump's media outlet of choice, Fox News. The caravan is, in fact, an annual event to raise awareness about the growing refugee crisis in Central America.
On Wednesday, Nielsen added that she did not want to "get ahead" of the state governors, who would have a heavy say in the deployment of troops.
But the secretary said that the deployment would be similar to past executive actions. "It will be strong," she said. "It will be as many as needed to fill the gaps today."
Indeed, this would not be the first time that the National Guard has been deployed to the southern border. In 2010, then-President Barack Obama’s administration sent 1,200 National Guardsmen to support Homeland Security's CBP and ICE amid heightened concerns about drug trafficking. President George W. Bush deployed 6,000 guardsmen to the border from 2006 to 2008. It reportedly cost a total of $1.2 billion, according to CNN.
Trump teased the news earlier Wednesday on Twitter, falsely claiming that Democrats wanted foreign citizens to "pour" into the U.S. without any immigrations safeguards.
“Our Border Laws are very weak while those of Mexico & Canada are very strong. 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,” he tweeted.
Advocacy groups immediately responded to the news, calling attention to the potentially disruptive effect troops could have on border communities.
"In Texas, those who live along the border already have to worry about Border Patrol and ICE," Mario Carrillo, director of America’s Voice Texas, said in a statement.
"Now, they will have to worry about the National Guard patrolling their streets, as if they were in a war zone," Carrillo continued. "For those who live along the border, our communities aren’t a setting for the latest episode of President Trump’s reality show, but are places where people live, work and collaborate with our brothers and sisters from the other side of the border."