President Donald Trump signed a memorandum to deploy troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration, officials said.
“The president has directed that the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security to work together with our governors to deploy the National Guards to our southwest border to assist the border patrol,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters at the White House prior to the signing.
She said specifics were being worked out but did not provide details about how many troops would be deployed.
But Mexico’s foreign ministry said Neilson told Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray the troops would not be armed nor conduct custom patrol duties but support the work of Homeland Security.
Trump found backing for his decision from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey.
“Arizona welcomes the deployment of National Guard to the border. Washington has ignored this issue for too long and help is needed. For Arizona, it’s all about public safety,” Ducey wrote on Twitter.
Trump made the surprise announcement a day earlier when he said the U.S. would use its military to secure the border until his long-promised wall is built.
“We are going to be guarding our border with the military. That’s a big step,” he said at the White House. “We really haven’t done that before, or certainly not very much before.”
The move, however, is not without precedence.
In 2006, President Barack Obama deployed troops to the U.S.-Mexico border and before him President George W. Bush in 2006.