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Why Jerry Brown Might Agree To President Trump's National Guard Border Deployment In California

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at an annual crime victims event on the steps of the California state Capitol on Monday, April 9, 2018. Afterward, Brown declined to answer reporter questions about President Trump's National Guard border deployment request.

Ben Adler / Capital Public Radio

Sure, Gov. Jerry Brown has the legal right to reject President Trump’s request to deploy California National Guard troops to the Mexican border.

But there are reasons for Brown to consider approving it, despite Trump’s deep unpopularity in the state.

“I wouldn’t just reject it out of hand,” says Leon Panetta, who served as President Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff and President Obama’s CIA Director and Defense Secretary.

“It sends the wrong signal – particularly at a time when President Trump is picking on California for all kinds of things. We don’t have to add more to that friction,“ he says. “It would look like, in rejecting this request, that it’s just another political punch aimed at the president. And while I understand that kind of reaction, I think in this case, the governor should rise above it.”

Listen to Secretary Panetta's full interview with CapRadio's Ben Adler here:

Panetta says California does have existing border security challenges that aren’t being sufficiently addressed. So “I would look at ways to help supplement efforts on the border, but do it pursuant to the kind of limitations that Gov. Brown would like to put in place,” he says.

That way, Brown could remain in command of the California National Guard and its rules of engagement along the border – rather than cede that control to a president whose immigration views Brown scorns, as might happen if he rejects Trump’s request and the president federalizes the Guard instead.

By agreeing to the deployment and negotiating rules of engagement for the California National Guard, Brown would remain in command of the troops — rather than ceding that control to Trump should the president seek to federalize the Guard.

It would also maintain the standard of mutual aid that the Trump administration has honored by swiftly approving California’s disaster relief requests for wildfires, mud slides and Oroville Dam.

Brown declined comment Monday when asked about the president’s deployment request by reporters after speaking at an event outside the state Capitol.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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