Governor Plans To Keep Troops At Mexican Border Amid Zero Tolerance Policy Debate

Posted at 1:53 PM, Jun 20, 2018

The press secretary for Governor Bill Haslam said he has no plans to withdraw Tennessee National Guard troops from their mission at the Mexican border despite ongoing debate over the "zero tolerance" immigration policy.

Nearly ten governors announced removing troops and equipment from the border and refused to send personnel until there is a permanent solution to the policy of separating children from their parents who enter the country illegally.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced signing an executive order to allow families to be held together during the process of prosecution and deportation. However, the order is not expected to reverse the existing policy.

Details of what the executive order entails have not been released.

"We're keeping families together, but we have to keep our borders strong. We will be overrun with crime and with people that should not be in our country," said Mr. Trump during a meeting with Republican members.

Since early June, three Tennessee National Guard crew members and one helicopter have been working in operation in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as part of a multi-state mission with troops from 17 states.

State officials said the troops have no law enforcement authority and are working only in "operational support missions that do not include intercepting individuals at the border."

The president always said it was up to Congress to end the policy of separating children from parents at the border prior to his announcement on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Tennessee House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh delivered a letter to Gov. Haslam’s office asking the governor to recall any Tennessee National Guard equipment and personnel from the border until the policies separating families is changed.

Fitzhugh released the following statement:

"I am a staunch supporter of our men and women in uniform,” said Fitzhugh.  “As a military veteran I know and appreciate the courage and sacrifice that our citizen soldiers display in their duties.  But in light of the atrocities that are occurring in Texas, with small children being separated from their parents, I do not believe that our state should contribute to this horrible debacle.”