United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order directing the deployment of military along the US-Mexico border to fight illegal immigration, asserting that the situation had reached "a point of crisis."
The announcement came a day after Trump said he intended to deploy the National Guard to the US-Mexico border until his administration was able to deliver on his campaign promise to build a wall to bolster security.
Given the importance to secure borders for national security, the National Guard, in coordination with governors, will remain in a support role until Congress takes the action necessary to close the loopholes, the White House said.
"The situation at the border has now reached a point of crisis. The lawlessness that continues at our southern border is fundamentally incompatible with the safety, security, and sovereignty of the American people. My administration has no choice but to act," Trump said in his memorandum to the Defence Secretary, Attorney general and the Secretary of Homeland Secretary.
The threat is real the Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told reporters at a White House news conference.
"We continue to see unacceptable levels of illegal drugs, dangerous gang activity, transnational criminal organisations and illegal immigration flow across our border," she said.
This threatens not only the safety of American communities and children, but also the very rule of law, on which, the country was founded. "It's time to act. So let's talk a little bit about that today," she said.
"In an effort to prevent such a consequence, the president has directed that the Department of Defence and the Department of Homeland Security to work together with our governors to deploy the National Guard to our southwest border to assist the Border Patrol," she said.
Border Patrol recorded 37,393 arrests on the southwest border in March, according to data released by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
In the last 15 months, she said the Trump administration has taken major steps to methodically strengthen border security.
"We began the first new border wall system construction in close to a decade, we modified our asylum system processing to more quickly adjudicate claims and we ended so-called temporary immigration programme," Nielson said.
Ruing that the system rewards bad behaviour, she said it does not punish law breakers.
"It undermines our nation's economic interests. Make no mistake, interdiction without the ability to promptly remove those without legitimate cause is not border security, it is not national security," she asserted.
"We will not allow illegal immigration levels to become the norm. More than 1,000 people a day, 300,000 a year, violating our sovereignty as a nation will never be acceptable to this president," she said.
Asking the Congress to pass the necessary legislation, Nielsen said in the meantime, Trump has directed that National Guard personnel be deployed to the southern border.
"While plans are being finalised, it's our expectation that the National Guard will deploy personnel in support of CBP's border security mission. It will take time to have the details in place, but we are beginning today and we are moving quickly. We are anxious to have the support," Nielsen said.
This is not the first time in recent history that the National Guard has been deployed to the southern border.
In 2012, President Barack Obama authorised the deployment of guardsmen to the border. President George W Bush also authorised deployment of 6,000 guardsmen to the border as a part of Operation Jump Start, assisting in operations which resulted in the arrest of more than 173,000 illegal aliens, the rescue of 100 persons, and the seizure of more than 300,000 pounds of drugs.
According to the White House, more than a thousand people a day and more than 300,000 a year violate "our sovereignty" by illegally crossing the border.
Trump has made securing the southern border a focal point of his presidency, with plans to beef up border security and create a wall as key components.