California Governor Jerry Brown has agreed to deploy 400 National Guard troops in response to President Donald Trump's request to states that border Mexico.
"Let's be clear on the scope of this mission,'' Brown wrote in a letter to the Trump administration. "This will not be a mission to build a new wall. It will not be a mission to round up women and children or detain people escaping violence and seeking a better life.''
Instead, Brown said, the troops will join an existing program to combat transnational drug crime, firearms smuggling and human trafficking. They will join 250 existing California National Guard troops, including 55 who are at the border.
The California Guard members may be deployed at the border, the coast and elsewhere statewide, Brown said.
Trump has asked border states to send 4.000 troops to the southern border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking.
Also Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a Southwestern Border Sheriff's Coalition conference that cracking down on illegal crossings and drug smuggling was necessary to build a lawful immigration system.
The coalition includes 31 sheriff's departments from Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California that patrol areas within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the border.
Citing a crisis on the border, Sessions said he had issued an order directing federal prosecutors to put more emphasis on charging people with illegal entry.
He took another swipe at sanctuary cities, telling the sheriffs that it was "illogical and insane'' that people could enter the country illegally on a Monday and make their way to San Francisco by Wednesday and not be deported.
He said he had also set quotas for immigration judges to reduce enormous court backlogs, saying they must complete 700 cases a year to earn a satisfactory job performance grade. The quotas take effect October 1.