Four GOP governors send National Guard to the southern border

David McNew

Three Republican governors ordered National Guard troops to the southern border this week to help interdict drug and human trafficking at Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s request.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster announced their decisions to send troops to the Texas-Mexico border on Wednesday, while South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced her move on Thursday. They join Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in doing so, who issued his own order last month.

In his statement Wednesday, Youngkin announced that he had signed an executive directive to send 100 National Guard troops to support Abbott’s Operation Lone Star. In March, Abbott asked other Republican governors to send troops to the southern border through an Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows states to send resources in times of disaster or crisis. Youngkin cited the increase in the flow of illegal drugs and human trafficking on the border, which he said is “devastating Virginia families and communities.”

“The ongoing border crisis facing our nation has turned every state into a border state,” Youngkin said. “As leadership solutions at the federal level fall short, states are answering the call to secure our southern border, reduce the flow of fentanyl, combat human trafficking and address the humanitarian crisis.”

Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, slammed Youngkin's decision. "In his obsessive quest to tee himself up for a presidential campaign, Youngkin is continuing to ignore the basic needs of Virginians to bolster his standing with the MAGA base,” Swecker wrote in a statement.

McMaster said the move is necessary for the "safety and security of South Carolinians."

“At the request of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, I have directed the deployment of South Carolina National Guard troops to Texas to help hold the line on the Southern border," McMaster said in a statement. “The safety and security of South Carolinians require that we stop the drug cartels, criminals, and terrorists from entering our country to peddle their poison.”

Details about how many troops South Carolina will deploy will be finalized in the coming weeks, with the goal of deployment by July 1, McMaster's office said.

By Thursday afternoon, Noem had joined in, announcing she was deploying "at least 50" South Dakota National Guard troops to the southern border later this summer.

“The border crisis is growing worse under President Biden’s willful inaction. Across the country, crime rates, drug overdoses, and human trafficking have all skyrocketed because our border remains a warzone,” she said in a statement.

Youngkin and McMaster said Abbott briefed them last week.

“Given the intensive resource demands on Texas, the dangers posed by the fentanyl crisis, and impact of the border crisis on criminal activity to the Commonwealth, Virginia will do its part to assist the State of Texas’ efforts with the coordinated deployment of Virginia National Guard soldiers to assist in key aspects of their mission,” Youngkin said.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

DeSantis announced in mid-May that he is sending more than 1,100 state law enforcement agents and National Guard members to Texas’ border with Mexico. The number is a tenfold increase compared to a similar move in 2021. DeSantis’ office said at the time that personnel would be at the border for 30 days, with possible extensions.

Abbott and DeSantis have blamed President Joe Biden for the influx of migrants at the southern border. DeSantis signed a sweeping immigration overhaul bill a day before the Biden administration ended Title 42, a Covid restriction that expedited the expulsion of migrants. Meanwhile, Abbott has bused migrants to Democratic cities, and he told Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a letter last month that the move is necessary “until Biden secures the border to stop the inflow of mass migration.”

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