Illinois lawmakers urge Rauner to say no to Trump on border

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Senate Democrats urged Gov. Bruce Rauner Thursday to reject any request from President Donald Trump to send National Guard troops to secure the U.S.-Mexican border.

The Senate voted 33-22 on a resolution a day after Republican Rauner said he would comply with a presidential request, if made, for troops to help prevent illegal immigration.

“We must keep the Illinois National Guard in Illinois, to protect the residents of Illinois,” said Sen. Martin Sandoval, the Chicago Democrat sponsoring the resolution.

Republican governors of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas have pledged up to 4,000 troops. California’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, chipped in 400 troops on Thursday.

Rauner, who barely survived a conservative challenge for re-election this fall in the March 20 primary, said on Wednesday that Trump is commander in chief and, “If we are requested, I believe we’d honor that request.”

Former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama also called up National Guard troops for border missions since 2003. Sandoval said those were wrong, too.

Rep. David Harris, an Arlington Heights Republican, was the state’s adjutant general in 2003 when he sent Illinois aviation support units to the border for drug interdiction under Bush’s 2003.

Harris pointed out that Trump has not federalized state troops, so the federal government must reimburse states for deployment costs and the governors who deploy them have a lot of negotiating power over how and where their state’s troops are used. For example, when Bush ordered state troops to patrol all U.S. airports after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then-Gov. George Ryan, at Harris’ suggestion, was able to stipulate they carry handguns, not standard-issue assault rifles.

Sen. Dale Righter, a Republican from Mattoon, called the resolution “premature.” He noted that ex-Gov. Pat Quinn, the Democrat Rauner beat in 2014, answered Obama’s call for Illinois troops in the early part of this decade.

“We should be a little less concerned about the partisan divide that’s brought about by this resolution and let the national security folks focus on national security,” Righter said.

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