Walker's U.S.-Mexico Border National Guard Pledge Incurs Resistance

Apr 11, 2018

Local leaders are adding their voices in opposition to Governor Walker's pledge to send Wisconsin National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border.

They say that Walker is endorsing "President Trump's anti-Latino and anti-immigrant agenda." Last week, President Trump said he wanted states to help patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump says until there’s a wall, he wants to guard the border with the military. On Monday, Governor Walker offered to provide Wisconsin National Guard members. He says border security affects Wisconsin because illegal drugs and firearms that make it past the border can end up here. Walker says, so can victims of human trafficking. The governor further defends his offer to help Trump, by saying that presidents from both parties have called on members of the National Guard for such efforts, in recent history.

READ: Governor Walker On Board to Send Wisconsin National Guard to Mexican Border

But elected officials and advocacy groups who question Walker's arguments gathered Tuesday at Milwaukee's City Hall to share their concerns. Mayor Tom Barrett was there to say he's shocked and disappointed by Walker’s pledge to send troops. Barrett says that Walker should prioritize using the state’s resources for local public safety rather than for security hundreds of miles away. The mayor says for the past year and a half he's urged Walker to provide assistance in Milwaukee, yet his pleas have been met with indifference.

Mayor Tom Barrett speaks at Tuesday's press conference.

“We know that we have Public Safety concern here in the city of Milwaukee," he says. "As the mayor, I want to make sure we have the resources so that we can have police officers, fire fighters and others for the people of the city of Milwaukee.” Barrett says he thinks Walker’s pledge for border troops is really a “political stunt” meant to get more attention on the national stage.

The immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera offers additional arguments against Walker sending National Guard members to the border. Executive Director Christine Neumann-Ortiz says one is that the move would run counter to the state's business interests, because she says Mexico is Wisconsin's second largest trading partner. Neumann-Ortiz adds that Walker's offer sends the wrong message to others, as well. "It is also disrespectful for the growing Mexican and Mexican-American community in Wisconsin that he’s supposed to represent, and who make critical contributions to our state," she stated.

Neumann-Ortiz says that the southern border needs a humanitarian response, not a military mission. She adds that If Walker wants to send the National Guard somewhere, he should offer them to Puerto Rico, which is still rebuilding after last fall’s hurricane.

Christine Neumann-Ortiz of Voces De La Frontera speaks.
Credit Maayan Silver

Meanwhile, the League of United Latin American Citizens questions the need for troops at the border, period. Darryl Morin is with the organization's Midwest chapter. He says Walker is making a mistake in supporting Trump...whose approach is misguided, according to Morin. “And now, even with border crossings at historic lows, [Trump] continues to make inflammatory remarks, and is asking the US Military and the National Guard to patrol the border, a mission for which they are not trained, and per U.S. law, have limited authority to execute.”

At this point, it's unclear whether any Wisconsin National Guard members will be sent to the border. While Gov. Walker has made the offer, the Guard has not yet received a request to support any missions there.