National Press Club

Jerry Brown defends National Guard decision amid presidential criticism

April 18, 2018 | By Justin Duckham | justinjduckham@gmail.com

California Gov. Jerry Brown at a Newsmakers event Tuesday defended his decision to restrict members of his state’s National Guard from directly participating in immigration enforcement, pushing back against criticism levied earlier that morning from President Donald Trump.

California Gov. Jerry Brown at a Newsmakers event Tuesday defended his decision to restrict members of his state’s National Guard from directly participating in immigration enforcement, pushing back against criticism levied earlier that morning from President Donald Trump.

California Gov. Jerry Brown at a Newsmakers event Tuesday defended his decision to restrict members of his state’s National Guard from directly participating in immigration enforcement, pushing back against criticism levied earlier that morning from President Donald Trump.

“Trying to stop drug smuggling, human trafficking and guns going to Mexico to the cartels, that to me sounds like fighting crime,” Brown said. “Trying to catch some desperate mothers and children or unaccompanied minors coming from Central America, that sounds like something else.”

In a letter sent to federal officials last week, Brown said California’s National Guard will comply with the Trump administration’s request to help secure the U.S.-Mexico border, but emphasized that the state’s troops will only support operations that don’t enforce federal immigration laws.

The move appeared to irk Trump, who tweeted Tuesday morning that “Jerry Brown and California are not looking for safety and security along their very porous Border.”

“He cannot come to terms for the National Guard to patrol and protect the Border,” Trump said. “The high crime rate will only get higher.”

Despite the president’s tweet, Brown said his state and the federal government would ultimately come to an understanding.

“There are enough problems at the border and the interface between our countries that California will have plenty to do and we’re willing to do it,’ Brown said.

Tuesday’s clash between the governor and the president is nothing new. The two leaders have frequently been at odds over immigration, an issue that Brown warned is getting too heated, thanks to rhetoric from “lowlife politicians.”

“I think it’s time to just chill,” Brown said. “Recognize the fact that (immigrants) are here. If Trump wants to round them up like some totalitarian government and ship them out, then say that. But he doesn’t say that because the American people will repudiate him and his party. So let’s take the path that we have available, come up with a plan.”

Brown’s appearance at the club comes in his final year as governor, a position he initially served in from 1976 to 1983 before his reelection in 2011.

He ran for president in 1976, 1980 and 1992, but was coy Tuesday when asked if he would consider another bid come 2020.

“I can’t think of anything less attractive than a Democratic presidential primary,” Brown quipped. “I do not know what I’m going to do after I leave. I have a ranch. I’ve started making olive oil.”

Addressing his party, Brown said that Democrats are suffering from “some identity problems.”

“Where is the focus? To me, the focus has to be how do you secure the economic future of people in the globalized economy that has undermined millions of people,” Brown said. “I definitely think we need a new president … so far the new leader has not emerged, I would say.”