California to withdraw troops from border calling Trump’s immigration crisis ‘manufactured political theatre’

Clark Mindock

A second US state is planning on pulling National Guard troops away from its border with Mexico, calling Donald Trump’s claims of a crisis at the border a “manufactured” problem and “political theater”.

California Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to say as much on Tuesday during his state of the state address, his first since his election in November.

“The border 'emergency' is a manufactured crisis, and California will not be part of this political theatre,” Mr Newsom plans to say, according to excerpts released by his office.

Mr Newsom’s decision follows after New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she would do the same last week.

Both governors are new to their jobs, and their decisions to pull troops reverses the policies of the previous administrations in their states. The decision is a broad stroke rejection of Mr Trump’s immigration messaging, which led to the longest government shutdown in US history earlier this year.

California will leave 100 of the 360 troops that have been deployed to the border under the plan expected to be unveiled on Tuesday, and the remaining troops will focus on transnational crimes like drug and gun trafficking. They will not be instructed to enforce immigration laws.

Another 100 of the National Guard troops are expected to be redirected to help with wildfire prevention and preparation efforts.

The original orders from former Governor Jerry Brown — who was also a Democrat — had a a deadline for deployment to end set for March 31. The new plan calls for immediate troop removal.

The decision comes as politicians in Washington have struggled to reach a deal to extend government funding, with immigration issues tying up negotiators. Democrats have demanded a limit on the number of migrants who can be detained by the US. Mr Trump, meanwhile, has branded that demand as one in support of criminal immigrants.

During Mr Trump's State of the Union speech last year, the president said that he planned on sending more troops to the border to deal with the migrant caravans he frequently cites as proof of an immigration crisis. The Pentagon said that increase will mean 4,350 troops on the US-Mexico border.