Governor Walker On Board to Send Wisconsin National Guard to Mexican Border

Apr 10, 2018

It’s possible that Wisconsin troops could be headed to the U.S.-Mexico Border. Governor Scott Walker announced Monday that he’s on board with President Donald Trump’s proclamation calling for National Guardsmen to be stationed there.

Such deployment is not uncommon, but opponents in Wisconsin say it’s not needed now.

Governor Walker is commander in chief of the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

During an interview on WISN radio, he said he not only supports President Trump’s plan to send Guardsmen to the border, but also says, if it were up to him, he would take things one step further: “The federal government should actually put training posts for our military, active guard and reserve, along the border. In a way that just seems logical. Put people down there to train at the same time they can be there to make sure they’re a deterrent to those causing havoc on the border.”

He also tweeted out a press release on the topic with a letter to Representative Mark Pocan who had expressed opposition to the pledge.

He also shared that he thinks troops could prevent human trafficking and the smuggling of firearms, and drugs -- especially opioids, and commented on social media that five former presidents had sent National Guardsmen to the border.

According to Jackie Guthrie, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, it wouldn’t be the first time Wisconsin troops have been sent to the border.

“In 2006 President Bush did call for a similar support to the southern bordered states. That mission was known as Operation Jumpstart, where 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen did deploy to the border to provide security. [From 2006-2008], the Wisconsin National Guard’s role in that mission was approximately 1,000 soldiers and airmen, who provided a variety of support during that period ranging from two weeks to two years in mission length, depending on the actual mission,” she explains.

Four years later, in 2010, President Barack Obama ordered the deployment of troops to support the border patrol.

Guthrie says in previous missions, National Guard members conducted maintenance, worked as medics and provided support to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

Despite Walker’s offer to send Wisconsin National Guard members, it’s uncertain whether any will go.

Guthrie says the National Guard has not received a request to support any missions at this time. She says if the troops are sent, they'll remain under Walker's control but get funding from the federal government; that's because President Trump's proclamation calling for states' help says troops would be deployed under Title 32 authority.

She says the rule also affects duties National Guard members could perform at the border. “The National Guard is a unique force in that it can, under that authority, support law enforcement. However, historically, they have served in a supporting role and have not directly conducted law enforcement activities.”

Wisconsin Democratic Congressman Mark Pocan doesn't think the troops have any business at the border. He spoke out against Republican Gov. Walker's offer, saying the National Guard should be used only in emergencies.

Pocan says there's no current situation that would justify sending Wisconsin troops out of state. “Since we have some of the lowest amount of people coming across the border right now into the United States, it’s probably the opposite of the necessary situation to have some extra protection there.”

He says Gov. Walker appears to be choosing politics over policy in this case, and that Walker's argument that the troops would help stop the opioid epidemic doesn't hold water. “The problem with opioids is not them coming across borders. The problem is the prescription and the prevalence in the communities."

Pocan fears that with no time frame established, deployment could be indefinite, impacting National Guard members and their families. Most serve one weekend a month and have full time jobs in the community.

Meanwhile, the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera had more pointed words for Gov. Walker and his offer to send Wisconsin troops to the border.

The organization put out a statement, saying Walker is catering to "Trump's white nationalist rhetoric and policies."

Voces de la Frontera calls the offer "irresponsible and disgraceful."