Massachusetts Republican Governor Charlie Baker reversed a decision to send a state National Guard helicopter to the U.S.-Mexico border, citing what he called the administration’s “cruel and inhumane” policy of separating children and parents. (June 19)
At least three states have removed National Guard troops from the border in response to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy’s impact on families, and several other states say they are unwilling to send troops to aid the border security effort.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order designed to stop the practice of splitting up families of undocumented immigrants, but it was not immediately clear how that would work or what impact it would have on governors voicing concerns over the policy.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, this week recalled a helicopter and four crewmembers from New Mexico. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, removed similar assets from Arizona. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, also a Democrat, said he was calling back three soldiers from the border due to the “cruel policy of tearing children away from their parents.”
“Until this policy of separating children from their families has been rescinded, Maryland will not deploy any National Guard resources to the border,” Hogan said.
Northam acknowledged that his state “benefits from the important work of securing our border.” But he said the state must also stand up against polices that “run afoul” of American ideals.
“We are ready to return and contribute to the real work of keeping our nation safe,” Northam said. “But as long as the Trump administration continues to enforce this inhumane policy, Virginia will not devote any resource to border enforcement actions that could actively or tacitly support it.”
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo are among several Democratic governors backing off previous plans to send National Guard troops to bulk up border security.
Hickenlooper this week signed an executive order “that keeps Colorado from using state resources to separate children from their parents or legal guardians.” Raimondo called the policy “immoral, unjust and un-American.”
The governors of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New York also held off on sending troops, citing the policy.
Not all governors, even Democrats, were willing to pull the plug on supporting border security. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said his state’s three-person team and helicopter would remain at least another month despite the “unconscionable practice.”
In April, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a zero tolerance policy requiring arrest of all immigrants who attempted to enter the country along the Mexican border without going through legal border crossings. Before that, adults who crossed the border illegally by themselves often faced arrest, but anyone who brought a child with them would not be prosecuted.
Sessions says the practice of bringing children became a form of “immunity” he wanted to end. “We cannot and will not encourage people to bring children by giving them blanket immunity from our laws,” he said.
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