Nobody has asked Florida to contribute National Guard forces to the patrol the Mexican border, Gov. Rick Scott said Friday, so the state has no position on whether it should.
"We understand the president wants border security, and we all agree we need border security," Scott said following a deployment ceremony for 20 troops from a Miami-based Military Intelligence unit of the Florida National Guard to an unidentified overseas site. "But we also need an immigration policy that we all understand, where we get the great people who want to come and live the dream in this country coming here."
President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a proclamation directing the deployment of the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration. He subsequently estimated the size of the troop force at 2,000 to 4,000 Guard members.
Then Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said on Twitter that she had a "productive conversation" about the deployment with governors of the Southwest border states. The Associated Press reported Friday that governors have some leeway to say no to presidents, but depending on which federal law Trump uses to order the deployment, the matter could be out of the governors' hands.
The statute known as "Title 10 duty status" establishes that National Guard personnel operate under the president's control and receive federal pay and benefits. It also forbids them from performing tasks of civilian law enforcement unless explicitly authorized, according to the Congressional Research Service, the AP said.
"As far as I know, we've not been asked about whether our troops would go," Scott said Friday, shortly after advising troops that Florida National Guard forces have been deployed more than 100 times since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. "We get deployed about four to five times a year. Most of it's outside the country," he said.
Scott added that, if there is a request, he imagined it would come to him via his Adjutant General, Florida National Guard Maj. Gen. Michael Calhoun, who was represented by his assistant at Friday's farewell ceremony.
On the topic of immigration in Florida, Scott said: "When you think about it, this state's a big melting pot. We have, I think, 250 languages spoken in the state. I mean we're a great melting pot. We need to have a federal policy that actually works."
The unit that was being mobilized on Friday includes linguists. Florida Guard spokesmen declined to say where they were going, and what roles they would play.