Border Patrol Offers First Look At California National Guard Troops In Field
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection offered its first look at the California National Guard since troops arrived in April.
“It’s definitely a force multiplier for us and a tremendous safety tool,” said William Rogers, U.S. Border Patrol spokesman in San Diego.
Rogers conducted a tour of the Chula Vista Border Patrol Station on Beyer Boulevard in San Yasidro.
California National Guard troops are performing support functions in the Tactical Communications Center, Remote Video Surveillance System Center and in the fleet maintenance facility. It is one of the border patrol stations in the San Diego sector. San Diego has 147 guard troops working at the moment, nearly all of them are working in the border area, though they are all working in support roles like they are at the Chula Vista station, Rogers said.
The guard troops were changing tires and performing maintenance on a Jeep in the garage.
“Because we were able to get some additional National Guard soldiers to perform the work, we gladly accepted them,” Rogers said.
The troops have also been acting as dispatchers, taking calls coming into the station as well as any calls coming through 911 and radioing them into agents in the field.
“They’re here 24/7, so for every person you see here, multiply by three,” Rogers said.
The Chula Vista Station sits on a hill high enough that Mexico can be seen in the distance. In April, Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to send 400 guardsmen to support the Trump Administration’s original call to send troops to the border. Nearly all of the 400 are currently deployed between San Diego Sector and the El Centro Sector on the east side of California, Rogers said.
The state set ground rules which say they won’t enforce federal immigration law, but it is hard to remain out of immigration enforcement when working directly with the border patrol. In another part of the compound, Guard troops sit in the dark, monitoring cameras and informing agents when they see someone cross into the U.S.
“No one knows what’s’ going to cross the border,” Rogers said. “It is the border. This side is the U.S., that side is Mexico. We don’t know what is going to be coming over the border at any given moment.”
There is also an area to detain suspects at the Chula Vista station, but it’s not supposed to be directly guarded by troops from California.
The tour was conducted by Customs and Border Protection. The California Guard added extra ground rules. The California National Guard would not allow KPBS to film the face of guard troops or to show their name tags. We reached out to the guard to ask why and they didn’t respond.