Colorado has joined ten other states in withdrawing or withholding National Guard troops that were originally assigned to guard the US-Mexico border.
The Centennial State is now one of eleven US states -primarily made up of Northeastern states- that are refusing to participate in securing the US border, with most orders coming from the offices of their respective governors. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security stated that reporters and Member of Congress are misleading the public about DHS’s controversial zero-tolerance policy.
While Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia headed by Democratic governors, two states -Massachusetts and Maryland- fall under Republican leadership.
Democratic Governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper issued an executive order on Monday, stating that state resources would no longer be used to control illegal immigration, due mostly in part to the recent interest taken in the “zero-tolerance policy,” a long-standing practice of separating the children of illegal immigrants from their parents during detention.
“I issue this Executive Order to forbid any state agency from using any state resources for the purpose of separating any child from his or her parent or legal guardian,” the order said, “On the sole ground that such parent or legal guardian is present in the United States in violation of federal immigration laws.”
The issue of children being temporarily separated from the adults they accompany after being detained has become a popular issue for Democratic lawmakers in particular, who have effectively turned it into a hot-button issue overnight as the 2018 election cycle closes in.
In a Twitter post from earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo outright refused to deploy New York National Guardsmen to the border.
“In the face of this ongoing tragedy, let me be very clear: New York will not be party to this inhumane treatment of immigrant families,” Cuomo said. “We will not deploy National Guard to the border, and we will not be complicit in a political agenda that governs by fear and division.”
Despite the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security to clear up several misconceptions about the practices of DHS and the “zero-tolerance” policy in general, the statements seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
“In recent days, we have seen reporters, Members of Congress, and other groups mislead the public on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) zero-tolerance policy,” DHS said, in an press release titled Myth vs. Fact: DHS Zero-Tolerance Policy. “Federal law enforcement officers have sworn duties to enforce the laws that Congress passes. Repeating intentionally untrue and unsubstantiated statements about DHS agents, officers, and procedures is irresponsible and deeply disrespectful to the men and women who risk their lives every day to secure our border and enforce our laws.”
Part of the reason for the detention appears to be the fraudulent use of children to gain entry into the US, particularly by illegal immigrants and human traffickers who do not access authorized ports of entry.
“In recent months, DHS has seen a staggering increase in the number of illegal aliens using children to pose as family units to gain entry into the United States,” DHS wrote. “From October 2017 to February 2018, there was a 315 percent increase in the number of cases of adults with minors fraudulently posing as ‘family units’ to gain entry.”
It is unknown whether or not the 11 states who are refusing to partake in border security will be hindering overall operations in the region.
In April of 2018, the Department of Defense announced that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis authorized the deployment of up to 4,000 National Guard troops to the border in an effort to reinforce the US Border Patrol’s current struggle with human, weapons and drug trafficking. The units deployed are to carry out missions related to aviation, engineering, surveillance, communications, vehicle maintenance and logistical support.
While illegal crossings at the border dropped significantly last year among fears that border laws would be more strictly enforced, they have since begun a steady increase. According to the LA Times, the US Border Patrol reported that the number of people caught attempting to cross or being denied port of entry in January of 2017 (right after President Trump’s inauguration) was about 1,370 per day- a number roughly the same size as a small to medium-sized Army infantry regiment. By February of the same year, it was down to a battalion-sized number of 840.
In April of 2018, the Department of Homeland Security noted a 203 percent increase within a year’s time, and the largest month-to-month increase in crossings since 2011.
“The crisis at our Southwest border is real,” DHS Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said in a statement. “The number of illegal border crossings during the month of March shows an urgent need to address the ongoing situation at the border. We saw a 203 percent increase from March 2017 compared to March 2018 and a 37 percent increase from last month to this month – the largest increase from month to month since 2011. Illegal aliens continue to exploit our immigration laws. We need to close these dangerous loopholes that are being taken advantage of each and every day, gain operational control of the border, and fully fund the border wall system. As the President has repeatedly said, all options are on the table.”
It is currently unknown if any other US states are considering withdrawing support for border operations at this time.
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