California governor decries 'political theater' as Trump heads to border

Vivian Ho in Oakland
Gavin Newsom addresses his decision to withdraw national guard troops from the US border with Mexico. Photograph: Rich Pedroncelli/AP

As Donald Trump prepared to speak at the US-Mexico border in another effort to convince voters of the need for a wall to curtail illegal immigration, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, defended his decision to withdraw national guard troops from the border.

“This whole border issue is manufactured,” Newsom said on Monday of Trump’s portrayal of the situation.

“The crisis on the border is a manufactured crisis and we are not interested in participating in this political theater,” Newsom said in a press conference in Sacramento.

“We are living in a state and in a nation where people that are here without documentation commit crimes at a substantially lower level than native-born citizens. We have families that are crossing the border that are doing so legally through the asylum process. We have 550,000 people fewer without documentation in this state than we did a decade ago.

“This is pure politics. Period. Full stop,” Newsom said. “The rest is frankly just a lot of misdirection and a waste of everybody’s time. We’re just not going to participate in it. We’re not interested in perpetuating this.”

About 360 guardsmen are currently stationed near the border in California, though the number changes from day to day, Newsom said. He planned to leave 100 at the border to combat drug and guns trafficking, and redeploy the remaining 260 “to more appropriate venues and to more appropriate purposes” such as wildfire abatement.

Newsom made his comments just hours before Trump was set to speak in El Paso, Texas, on Monday – his first rally of 2019 – where he is expected to further his efforts to build a wall along the border.

The El Paso county judge and commissioners’ court passed a resolution before the rally decrying Trump’s rhetoric, stating that the county was “disillusioned by President Trump’s lies regarding the border and our community”.

“Though it is difficult to welcome him to El Paso while he continues to proliferate such untruths, we do welcome him to meet with local officials to become properly informed about our great and safe region,” the resolution states.