Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has ordered about two dozen National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico.
The announcement was publicized by state military officials June 18, and progressive activists and politicians in the state responded quickly with protests.
“Gov. Walker’s plan to send Wisconsin National Guard members to the southern border is a misuse of state and federal resources and only serves to give President Trump air cover for his outrageous and cruel plan to separate immigrant families,” said U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., who recently visited the border in Texas.
Walker is following the lead of President Donald Trump, who this spring had directed the Defense Department to support Homeland Security by providing increased border security.
A news release from the Wisconsin National Guard said the president called on forces to mobilize “under the Militia Clause of the Constitution” and “Wisconsin is one of several states nationwide providing support to states on the southwest border. All will mobilize in a Title 32, 502(f) status, meaning they will operate under state control but with federal funds.”
The soldiers and airmen from Wisconsin are volunteers from different units in the state and, according to the news release, “additional Wisconsin National Guard members are expected to head to Arizona in the coming weeks and months.”
The release stated Wisconsin troops have been dispatched before to the border, including in 2006, when George W. Bush was president, and in 2010, when Barack Obama was president. In 1916, the entirety of Wisconsin National Guard — some 5,000 troops — went to Texas during what the news release referred to as the "Mexican Border Crisis."
The Wisconsin troops will head to the border in Arizona at a time when border agents are involved in an operation that involves separating children and parents crossing the border without permission.
Pocan, over the weekend, toured the Border Patrol Processing Center, the McAllen-Hidalgo International Bridge, the Brownsville Children’s Shelter and a detention facility.
“During my visit to the southern border this weekend, it was clear that additional national guard troops will not alleviate the humanitarian crisis unfolding in shelters," the congressman said. "Despite sufficient staffing, immigration officials in Texas seem content with slow-walking procedures and continuing the mistreatment of immigrants at the border.”
The administration's campaign to separate children from parents prompted one Republican governor — Charlie Baker in Massachusetts — to reverse his decision to dispatch troops for the Trump administration’s use. But not Walker, who said earlier that he supported the president’s aggressive actions at the border.
Pocan said, "If Gov. Walker wants to address the humanitarian crisis unfolding at the border, he should join me in calling on President Trump to end the practice of breaking up families."
Voces de la Frontera and the New Sanctuary Movement of Milwaukee will hold an interfaith rally at 9 am June 21, at the Milwaukee ICE office, 310 E. Knapp St., in protest of Trump's efforts to separate immigrant families at the border and in Wisconsin.
"We call on Gov. Walker to immediately recall our National Guard troops back to their homes in Wisconsin and to stop aiding Donald Trump's cruel war on immigrant families," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera.
She also said, "Scott Walker is enabling Trump as he builds prison camps for children and terrorizes millions of families. We demand Gov. Walker recall the National Guard troops back to Wisconsin."