ELKO — If the president asks Nevada to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, Elko County commissioners want Gov. Brian Sandoval to know they support deployment.
Their position, expressed in a unanimous vote to write a resolution to send to the governor, is in opposition to Sandoval’s stance. A gubernatorial spokeswoman told The Associated Press that the governor “does not think this would be an appropriate use of the Nevada National Guard.”
The governor’s reaction comes after President Donald Trump recently proposed sending thousands of National Guard members to the border to help federal officials fight illegal activity.
The presidential memorandum states that “the combination of illegal drugs, dangerous gang activity, and extensive illegal immigration not only threatens our safety but also undermines the rule of law.”
The directive also states that the Secretary of Defense will work with the Department of Homeland Security to secure the border, and designates that the Secretary of Defense can call on National Guard units for support. About 2,000-4,000 National Guard members could be deployed from across the country.
Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California governors have complied with the president’s directive. Nevada had not been specifically asked to contribute National Guard members as of the AP article on April 6.
“Why would we be aligning ourselves with the sanctuary city instead of joining our southern neighbors who are trying to protect our border?” asked Commissioner Rex Steninger in the county’s April 18 meeting.
A draft resolution points out that “even California” complied with the directive.
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently reached an agreement with the federal government regarding deployment, which could begin as early as this month. Brown stipulated that California National Guard members focus efforts on fighting transnational gangs, and drug and gun smugglers — not immigration.
Activities of transnational gangs, including MS-13, in Nevada are part of what led the Elko County commissioners to say they would support Nevada sending its National Guard to help.
Steninger cited reports of the MS-13 gang — short for Mara Salvatrucha — being tied to 10 homicides in Clark County over the past year. The Metropolitan Police reported that number in a news conference in late March.
“I think this is getting pretty close to home here,” Steninger said.
Commissioner Cliff Eklund spoke of a recent arrest in Carlin that revealed possible ties to MS-13. Carlin Police Chief Dennis Fobes could not be reached for comment.
“I think there are people in the world that would love to take advantage of a breach in a border that mean to do harm to Americans,” said Delmo Andreozzi, chairman of the board of commissioners.
The presidential memorandum refers to previous presidents George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s use of National Guard members to protect the border.
The president or any state governor can call on the National Guard, which is part of what makes the unit unique among U.S. military elements. Designed to serve the nation and community, National Guard members might be called to respond to domestic emergencies, overseas combat, counterdrug efforts, reconstruction missions and more, according to the National Guard website.
“The crisis at our southern border once again calls for the National Guard to help secure our border and protect our homeland,” the president’s memo states.
The commissioners expressed their agreement with the president’s views and wrote that the board “respectfully requires that Gov. Sandoval reconsider his decision … and join the effort to secure our border and support our president in his effort to make America safe and secure.”
Commissioners plan to send the wording from their resolution to Sandoval then pass the formal resolution for the record at a future commissioners meeting.