Negotiations are continuing with governors along the nation's border with Mexico to determine the scope of the National Guard's presence and their specific duties while there, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said Thursday.
"The way this process works, we work with the governors and the National Guard bureau," Nielsen told Fox News' "Fox & Friends."
"The idea here is to choose different mission subsets that the National Guard can perform to help our Border Patrol, so we have a variety of recommendations that we've made."
President Donald Trump Wednesday ordered troops "immediately" to the border to stop illegal immigration, and Nielsen told reporters at the afternoon White House press briefing that the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security are working to make his order happen.
Nielsen said Thursday she's spoken with the governors involved, and will speak again today, but "the idea here, of course, is for this to be effective and productive and supportive of our mission."
She also said that she's spoken with California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose state's designation as a sanctuary state has caused a great deal of controversy.
"We sent him information with respect to our best advice how we could use the guard to support our mission," said Nielsen. "Men and women on the front lines if you will, whether they be state employees or federal employees usually have much better grasp of what we need."
Brown has supported such use of the National Guard to support the Border Patrol in the past, she said, but she wants to have more conversations with him before she jumps ahead of him on the issue.
Nielsen said that she's learned through her talks with border governors, though, they had a strong belief that having the National Guard present makes a "huge difference."
"Operation Phalanx would be a way for the National Guard to provide air support," she said. "They provide medical care for those we interdict. They provide fleet maintenance. We use a lot of mechanics. A lot of support functions that will free up the Border Patrol to do what they do best."
But the National Guard won't be making arrests, stopping people, or investigating crimes, as that would be against federal law.
Nielsen, though, said she plans to ask Congress to work with her in the next few months to pass legislation, as many of the prohibitions against Guard actions are "the result of loopholes in our system. They were probably never meant to be there."
She also spoke about against sanctuary cities, saying they provide protection for criminals, not crime victims, as the concept had initially provided.
"When we cannot arrest those criminal aliens within a safe setting such as jail, we have to send our agents and officers into the field," she said. "It puts them in danger."
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