State Politics

How will President Trump's border security plan affect the North Carolina National Guard?

Active duty NC National Guard guardsmen and family members stood and applauded as the World War II 30th Infantry Division veterans entered for a ceremony Friday, July 24, 2015 in the NCNG Joint Force Headquarters in west Raleigh, NC. About 20 WWII 30th Infantry Division veterans and their families were honored Friday for the 70th year anniversary "Old Hickory" Veteran Recognition Day.
Active duty NC National Guard guardsmen and family members stood and applauded as the World War II 30th Infantry Division veterans entered for a ceremony Friday, July 24, 2015 in the NCNG Joint Force Headquarters in west Raleigh, NC. About 20 WWII 30th Infantry Division veterans and their families were honored Friday for the 70th year anniversary "Old Hickory" Veteran Recognition Day. N&O file photo

President Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday that he wants to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border probably won't affect anyone in the North Carolina National Guard.

The White House gave very few details of its plan to further militarize the border, but one thing a Trump administration official did say was that Trump plans to ask at least the governors of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California to deploy their guard units.

Unlike the active-duty military, whose commander in chief is the president, each state's National Guard units are commanded by the state's governor.

If any of those states refuse to cooperate or if they can't provide enough troops — Trump has said he wants 100,000 troops on the border — it's possible Trump could look to other states for help.

And in that case it's unclear if North Carolina would be called upon, or if Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, would agree to cooperate.

"We have not been requested to activate our National Guard," Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said. "There are still important questions about cost, duration and mission that should be answered to ensure this is necessary and not simply political."

The number of people arrested for attempting to illegally cross into U.S. borders has declined almost every single year since 2000, and the most recent estimate of how many people are living in the U.S. illegally shows that number is lower than it was in 2009. Despite those declining numbers, Trump made stronger border security a key issue of his campaign and has continued to stress immigration concerns once in office.

After first promising supporters that Mexico would pay for a wall along the border, Trump asked Congress earlier this year to spend $25 billion in U.S. taxpayers' money on the wall. Congress instead voted to spend $1.6 billion on various border security measures.

The President can deploy the military on U.S. soil to help with disaster relief. But deploying troops to act as law enforcement could violate a federal law called the Posse Comitatus Act.

However, individual governors are allowed to do that with their National Guard units, and both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama deployed troops to the Mexico border at various points in their presidencies.

But last year, when the Trump administration was considering a similar plan to the one he announced Wednesday, governors on both sides of the political aisle said they weren't convinced it would be a good idea to send their National Guard units to round up immigrants at the border. Those skeptical governors include Democrats like Brian Sandoval of Nevada, as well as Republicans like Utah's Gary Herbert and Arkansas' Asa Hutchinson.

The North Carolina National Guard contains many different specialties, including troops focused on engineering, airlifts and logistics.

Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran
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