Hogan, Northam pull Guard troops at Mexican border over separation policy

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy, which has separated thousands of children from their parents, is getting pushback from both Maryland and Virginia governors in the form of withdrawn National Guard troops.

Ralph Northam announced Tuesday afternoon that he will recall four Virginia National Guard soldiers and one helicopter from the Southwest border with Mexico in response to the policy that targets those trying to enter the U.S. illegally.

“We are ready to return and contribute to the real work of keeping our nation safe,” Northam said in a statement. “But as long as the Trump administration continues to enforce this inhumane policy, Virginia will not devote any resource to border-enforcement actions that could actively or tacitly support it.”

Earlier Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said his state would not deploy any National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border until the Trump administration policy of separating migrant children from their families has been rescinded.

Hogan tweeted the announcement Tuesday morning.

Hogan said he ordered four crew members and a helicopter to immediately return from where they were stationed in New Mexico.

Hogan is the second Republican governor to defy the policy. Monday evening, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he would reverse a decision to send a National Guard helicopter to the country’s southern border, citing the Trump administration’s policy. Democratic governors in Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania have taken similar steps.

The moves reflect a growing bipartisan backlash to the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy — which, according to Homeland Security officials, has taken 2,342 minors away from adults who were arrested trying to come into the U.S. illegally May 5–June 9.

Because the children can’t go to jail with their parents, they are being separated. Homeland Security officials have said the process of reunifying these separated families is a work in progress.

Hogan’s announcement follows Maryland Democrats’ calls Tuesday morning “to follow Governor Baker’s lead.” In a tweet Monday, Hogan had bemoaned a lack of immigration consensus between the White House and Congress.

Earliler Tuesday, top prosecutors from 21 states sent a letter Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. In that letter, they called the policy inhumane, and said it raises concerns about violating children’s rights as well as constitutional principles of due process and equal protection.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring all signed that letter.

WTOP’s Jack Moore and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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