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Governor candidates, with some exceptions, largely back Sandoval decision not to send National Guard to border

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Election 2018Immigration

At least three candidates running to succeed Gov. Brian Sandoval agree with the termed-out governor’s decision to not send National Guard members to the border with Mexico.

Sandoval’s comments came in the wake of President Donald Trump’s administration announcement last week that it would request a planned National Guard deployment on the U.S. border with Mexico and authorized up to 4,000 National Guard troops to be mobilized by state governors.

Texas and Arizona have already deployed several hundred Guard members to the border, and California Gov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday that the state would mobilize 400 Guard troops, but emphasized that they would be focused on law enforcement and not implementing immigration law.

Federal law prohibits members of the military from conducting law enforcement actions domestically, unless given explicit permission by Congress. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said last week that the deployments would be similar to ones called for by former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

Still, governors in several states including Nevada and Oregon have said they wouldn’t send National Guard troops — a position shared by some of the state’s top gubernatorial candidates. The top two Democratic candidates — Clark County Commissioners Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani —  both said they would oppose sending Nevada National Guard members to the border.

"Our men and women in uniform volunteer to serve and protect our country, not to be used as political pawns to advance an irrational immigration agenda,” Sisolak said in an emailed statement. “I agree with Governor Sandoval's decision not to deploy the Nevada National Guard to the border."

"Governor Sandoval was right to say that this meaningless, mean-spirited plan is not appropriate,” Giunchiglinai said in an emailed statement. “The state of Nevada doesn't need to carry out the Trump Administration's far-right, fear-based agenda."

Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Schwartz’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment, but the state treasurer told conservative talk radio host Kevin Wall in a Tuesday interview that he would want to see more information before sending Guard members to the border.

“There's a big step up between ICE and the border patrol and putting federal troops there,” he said. “And I just don't know why right now we have to make that move. Maybe we do, maybe the governor, maybe the president have better information than I do, but I would want some better answers as to why now.”

Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office also did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Independent gubernatorial hopeful Ryan Bundy — the son of controversial southern Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy — told that as governor he would “honor President Trump’s request” to send National Guard members to the border.

In an earlier statement, Sandoval’s office said that while it hadn’t been approached by the federal government to send state National Guard troops to the border, the governor did not think the administration's proposed plan was “appropriate.”

“In the past, the Nevada Army National Guard has participated in Border Security missions, which amounted to both surveillance and life-saving mission sets in the performance of their border duties,” Sandoval spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner said last week. “If a proposal that was consistent with life-saving missions was necessary and/or requested, the Governor would consider such a request.”

The issue has become political fodder for the Nevada Republican Party, which sent a “border security poll” email on Thursday asking respondents to “show your support for President Trump’s bold actions to protect our border and DEMAND border security today.”

Disclosure: Steve Sisolak and Chris Giunchigliani have donated to The Nevada Independent. You can see a full list of donors here.


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