National Guard troops along the US-Mexican border may be armed, officials say
The US Border Patrol Chief, Ronald Vitiello, on Monday said that the border states governors would have the right to assess whether the troops in their states carry arms
Although the United States troops deployed along the US-Mexican border are unarmed for now, the head of the US Border Patrol on Monday did not rule out the possibility that some of the National Guard troops along the border might be armed for self-defense, reports state.
The US Border Patrol Chief, Ronald Vitiello, said that the border states governors would have the right to assess whether the troops in their states should carry arms, especially when they are on a mission which could require them to defend themselves.
Speaking at a news conference at the Department of Homeland Security, Vitiello said: "That's a case by case delegation, and that's determined by what the assignment is and most of the assignments won't require it. And then whatever the threat situation is, they'll be entitled to protecting themselves," NBC News reported.
The chief added that no troops would be assigned to do any kind of law enforcement work or to particularly arrest immigrants.
Vitiello's acknowledgment came shortly after the state of California announced that it would not be sending any troops to the border. The Department of Defense and Homeland Security had reportedly requested for the troops.
California said that it has decided not to send the troops because it considers the work required for them to do at the border to be very closely associated with immigration enforcement, according to reports.
Homeland Defense Integration's deputy assistant secretary for defense, Robert Salesses, said: "We are in continuing dialogue, discussion, with the California National Guard."
Department of Defense officials said that Arizona, New Mexico and Texas have sent 250, 50 and 650 troops respectively, and they aim to increase the number to 2,000 by September end.
President Donald Trump, on April 4, made an announcement that he wants to deploy the National Guard to the US-Mexico border because illegal immigration over the border had increased to an unforeseen level since he took office last year in January.
The federal officials said that none of the troops who have been deployed at the border are armed. They added that the troops' mission, for now, is to provide intelligence through air surveillance and assist with border infrastructure projects. They are not assigned to arrest immigrants.