There’s a humanitarian crisis at the border – one that the Trump administration created and refuses to help resolve. Meanwhile, the administration continues to insist that thousands of military personnel are needed in response to their manufactured crisis. Enter a more sensible voice, an incoming border state governor.
In a new piece for Politico, Carla Marinucci reports that California Governor-elect Gavin Newsom is calling for the state’s National Guard deployment to the border be replaced with state personnel and resources devoted to emergency care and humanitarian crisis response. It’s an important recognition that we need to send aid workers not soldiers and rely on humanitarian assistance not tear gas to help resolve the crisis our government has created.
The article is excerpted below and available online here.
A month out from his inauguration, California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom is staking out his own ground when it comes to immigration policy and relations with Mexico, signaling he’s not interested in keeping National Guard troops at the border and that he intends to seek more state resources to address humanitarian concerns.
The approach, which Newsom discussed Friday with POLITICO, could suggest a shift — if not a radical one — from the approach taken by current Gov. Jerry Brown, a fellow Democrat.
“What’s the point of our National Guard being there at this point? I can’t see any,’’ he told POLITICO in a phone interview from Mexico as he prepared to attend the inauguration of Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. He said he would review current National Guard commitments — those made by Brown under pressure from President Donald Trump. Those commitments are set to extend until March 31. But Newsom said he believed those troops could be far better utilized.
“There’s plenty for them to do on the Camp fire and recovery efforts,’’ as well as “on the humanitarian front’’ where the immediate need for shelter, food and medical care is clearly “not going away anytime soon,’’ he said.
Newsom said he will explore a role for California’s Office of Emergency Services to aid refugees who have already arrived in California and hopes to assist services being offered by nonprofit groups like the Salvation Army.
Newsom directly challenged Trump’s characterization of migrant caravans at the border as a national security emergency and said the president should be “showing up and meeting” refugees to see for himself the immediate scope of a severe humanitarian crisis developing there.
“I don’t care who you are, Republican or Democrat,’’ said Newsom, who said he was shaken by the stories and desperate conditions of very young children and refugees at a border detention center, where he spoke with them directly. “The empathy, on a human level has to be considered here.”
But Newsom challenged Trump’s threats to close the border at length — purportedly because of security issues related to the caravans — saying it would have potentially catastrophic economic effects on California and the nation as a whole.
“We can’t afford it,’’ he said, noting that California-Mexico trade now tops half a trillion dollars and involves an estimated 350 million border crossings annually. “America can’t afford it,’’ he said of Trump’s threats, adding he would encourage Trump “to consider not just the issue from a purely border protection security perspective,’’ but also from the “economic security perspective” of both California and the nation.
After his inauguration on Jan. 7, Newsom said, he plans to oversee the revitalization of a California-Mexico trade office and wants to renew a lapsed commission of border governors from California, Baja Mexico North and South to regularly meet and address regional problems.
He also said his visit to Mexico has convinced him that the coming state budget — the first draft of which is expected in mid-December — must include resources he said are clearly critically needed to address some of the health and welfare needs that are being ignored on the border at the federal level.
Specifically, Newsom called on state, local and regional officials to immediately address the plight of migrants, some of who are awaiting asylum claims, and whom he said he learned are being dropped off by ICE in San Diego without shelter, food or medical treatment. The situation, he said, has left many vulnerable to human trafficking, crime and health issues that could impact California communities.
Newsom said he intends to address the issue with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other officials including the elected leaders of Imperial County, which is currently the center of the migrant crisis.
He said he was also deeply concerned to see hoards of desperate migrants at the border have no legal representation as they seek asylum, many from dangerous situations in Central America. They need “the benefit of some legal aide.”
But he said it would help enormously if Trump would come to the border and see the situation with his own eyes. “You can’t understand it until you experience it,’’ Newsom said. “And if you experience it, I assure you, your rhetoric will change.”