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Gov. Jerry Brown says National Guard is "chomping at the bit" to get to border

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 09: California Governor Jerry Brown speaks during a news conference at the Port of Oakland on July 9, 2012 in Oakland, California. United States Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood joined California Governor Jerry Brown and Oakland Mayor Jean Quan to announce a $15 million federal TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant that was awarded to the Port of Oakland to help fund a rail development project.

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California Governor Jerry Brown said that National Guard troops are ready to deploy, as President Trump aims to use guardsmen as a means to deter illegal immigration and drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border. Brown said despite reports that he's waffling about sending troops, his state's National Guard troops are "ready to go" pending written confirmation from Washington. 

Brown, speaking at the National Press Club in D.C., said of the exact number of troops being sent from California is still "being worked out."

"I sent a letter that outlines my objectives and that number it could be two [hundred] or 400, that's being worked out. But there's very good communication between California's National Guard and the National Guard headquarters, but there are other players like Department of Defense and Homeland Security. So we got plenty to do with respect to our borders," said Brown. 

He added, "We've got a problem of guns, cartels below the border, human trafficking, guns going south, so there's a lot to do. I think we're pretty close to an agreement."

His comments come after federal officials told the Associated Press on Monday that Brown would send troops to the border, but California's troops would not perform immigration enforcement duties. They would not, for instance, repair vehicles or operate remote-control surveillance cameras.

"I think we've already come to terms [on troop agreement] as far as I understand it but we haven't gotten any written confirmation. But our National Guard general has been in touch with the National Guard people in Washington and from this perspective, he knows what the mission is, he's ready to go," said Brown. 

Last week, Brown pledged 400 troops to Mr. Trump's border mission on the condition that they have nothing to do with immigration enforcement. After Mr. Trump signed a proclamation dispatching National Guard troops to the border, state officials from Texas and Arizona announced they would be sending troops to aid in the president's assignment. 

Brown said California and Texas are "already working on" the issues of drug trafficking and guns moving across the border. 

"We have 50 guardsmen near the southern border, we have a couple hundred guardsmen throughout the state dealing with the same problem so it is a very logical next step to add a couple hundred more or more than that and the Guard is chomping at the bit ready to go, so I think we'll get there," Brown added. 

A U.S. Homeland Security Department spokesman said that the federal government is committed to working with Gov. Brown to mobilize the state's National Guard in its border mission. Tyler Houlton said in a tweet that the California governor shares an interest on securing the border with Mexico.

Shortly before delivering his remarks to the Press Club, Mr. Trump tweeted early Tuesday that Brown was "not looking for safety and security" along the "very porous border."

"He cannot come to terms for the National Guard to patrol and protect the border. The high crime rate will only get higher," Mr. Trump warned. 

Brown responded to the president's tweets at the Tuesday event.  "Is trying to stop drug smuggling,  human trafficking and drugs going to Mexico to go the cartels? That sounds to me like fighting crime. Try to catch some desperate mothers and children or unaccompanied minors coming from Central America, that sounds like something else."

He added, "We want to be cooperative. I appreciate the President's tweet when he thanked me. There's been a little bit of back and forth as you always get with bureaucrats. But I think we can find common understanding here, there's enough problems at the border and the interface between our countries, California will have plenty to do, and we're willing to do it."