US says California rejects proposed border duties for troops

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Trump administration said Monday that California Gov. Jerry Brown rejected terms of the National Guard’s initial deployment to the Mexican border, but a state official said nothing was decided.

“The governor determined that what we asked for is unsupportable, but we will have other iterations,” Ronald Vitiello, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s acting deputy commissioner, told reporters in Washington.

Brown elicited rare and effusive praise from President Donald Trump last week for pledging 400 troops to the Guard’s third large-scale border mission since 2006.

But the Democratic governor conditioned his commitment on troops having nothing to do with immigration enforcement, even in a supporting role.

Brown’s announcement last week did not address what specific jobs the California Guard would and would not do and how state officials would distinguish work related to immigration from other aspects of border enforcement, such as fighting criminal gangs and drug and gun smuggling.

Vitiello said the governor decided California will not accept terms of an initial troop rollout for the state that was similar to plans for the other three border states, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. He said California may participate in other ways that must still be worked out.

According to two U.S. officials, the initial jobs for troops include fixing and maintaining vehicles, using remote-control surveillance cameras to report suspicious activity to U.S. Border Patrol agents, operating radios and providing “mission support,” which can include clerical work, buying gas and handling payrolls. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

California National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Thomas Keegan said “state officials have not rejected anything” since Brown proposed a formal agreement Wednesday with the Homeland Security and Defense Departments that prohibits any involvement in immigration.

“The federal government has not yet responded,” Keegan said in an emailed statement.