President Trump said Wednesday he will push ahead with upgrading sections of the border wall in California, apparently reversing his early vow not to do any more wall construction in the state until Congress approved his full border barrier.
Mr. Trump, who has feuded with Gov. Jerry Brown over California’s sanctuary policies and resistance to the administration’s stepped-up enforcement, said he would overlook those differences and allow wall upgrades to about 28 miles of the border in the San Diego sector.
“San Diego has asked us to go forward with their section of the wall in California. And rather than not doing that and letting them lobby for us with Governor Brown, we decided to do it,” the president said at a meeting with his Cabinet. “We’ll have a little bit less of a lobby, but we’ll have a lot of people happy in San Diego.”
His announcement came just as administration officials were giving an update on the president’s deployment of National Guard troops to the border.
Homeland Security and the guard said 757 troops are now deployed in helping the border mission, and over the first three and a half weeks they’ve assisted in 1,600 apprehensions of illegal immigrants, and were part of operations that forced 451 migrants to turn back from the border.
The troops aren’t directly involved in making the arrests, but some of them are watching the surveillance cameras and sensors that are used to guide agents in the field to interdict smugglers and migrants. Still other troops are conducting vehicle maintenance for Border Patrol trucks, or doing clerical and administrative tasks so agents who used to perform those can get out into the field on patrol.
Officials said the troops are a “force multiplier” for the agents.
Guard troops in California have been slower to get into the field, after Mr. Brown and the Trump administration struggled to agree on what sorts of tasks they would be allowed to perform. Mr. Trump had appeared to try to scuttle the agreement when he said the U.S. wouldn’t pay for the deployment if Mr. Brown got his way with restrictions.
But the president appears to have let his objections drop, and California’s troops are currently in orientation. Officials said they hope those troops are deployed by next week.
Of those that are in the field, about 200 are assisting in the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley sector, 120 in Laredo, 90 in Del Rio, 70 in Big Bend, 110 in El Paso, 135 in Tucson and 50 in the Yuma sector in western Arizona.