BOSTON — Gov. Charlie Baker is reversing a decision to send a Massachusetts National Guard helicopter and crew to U.S.-Mexico border, citing the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents.
The Republican governor called the policy of taking children from their parents as families arrive at the border “cruel and inhumane” and said he would put off the National Guard mission.
“It’s cruel and inhumane, and I told the National Guard to hold steady and not go down to the border — period,” Baker told reporters. “So we won’t be supporting that initiative unless they change their policy.”
National Guard personnel will deploy on border security support missions, but will steer clear of law enforcement activities.
The crew had been set to fly down later this month to work with federal officials to help track illegal activity along the border with Mexico.
“They’re not going to the border,” Bakers said, adding that Massachusetts won’t be participating until the family separation policy is changed.
President Donald Trump on Monday pushed back against rising criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, again falsely blaming Democrats for the policy decision.
“The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility,” he said.
Massachusetts Democrats have joined calls to end the practice.
The number of foreign-born service members becoming U.S. citizens dropped 16 percent last year.
On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy participated in a march in Texas to draw attention to a tent-like shelter to house hundreds of the minors near the Tornillo port of entry in far West Texas. The protest was led by Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke.
Kennedy called the practice of family separation “monstrous,” saying all families, and all children, deserve to be treated with dignity and decency. The Democrat said he attempted to visit the facility, but was denied entry.
Jay Gonzalez, a Democrat hoping to unseat Baker in November, said Baker “should have never offered our state’s resources to enforce Donald Trump’s inhumane immigration policy in the first place.”
Baker said he understands the need to control the country’s borders but hopes the administration will rethink its current policy.
“Border security is important; no one disputes that. But separating kids from their families is not,” Baker said. “They should change their policy. I’m hopeful with the voices that are coming out at this point and making that case that they’ll consider alternatives to deal with border security.”