AUSTIN, Texas — The governors of Virginia, Iowa and South Carolina announced they will send National Guard units to Texas, becoming the latest Republican governors to offer troops to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has appealed for help protecting the border from its state with Mexico. .
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said they will send about 100 National Guard members, while Gov. Henry McMaster said details about South Carolina Guard support will be forthcoming. available in the coming weeks and a rollout is expected on July 1st.
“The current border crisis facing our nation has turned every state into a border state,” Youngkin said Wednesday in a statement.
The troops will combat the smuggling of drugs and people across the Texas border and “address the humanitarian crisis” during an authorized deployment through September 30, Youngkin said. The 100 Guard members will be joined by 21 support personnel, and the troops will be equipped with weapons, ammunition, body armor, protective masks, and night vision and other support devices, according to the governor’s directive.
Democratic state lawmakers in Virginia told The Washington Post they have been told the deployment will cost about $12.4 million in state funds, or $3.1 million per month. House Minority Leader Del. Don Scott Jr. told the newspaper he found the cost “disturbing” because the deployment lacks a specific, prescribed mission.
Iowa troops will deploy for 30 days in August and Reynolds will send 30 state troopers in September, according to his announcement.
The three states join the governors of Florida and Tennessee in previously announcing they would send troops to Texas through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows states to provide resources to each other during emergencies. Idaho and Nebraska have pledged to support law enforcement, which Texas has also requested.
Each state that provides support does so at its own expense, according to the compact request.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has authorized 800 soldiers who are scheduled to split work in Texas into two 16-day rotations. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee authorized a month-long border assignment for 100 soldiers.
Abbott appealed for help May 16 in a letter to all governors, citing a projected increase in illegal activity at the border caused by the May 11 lifting of the public health policy, known as Title 42. The policy allowed Federal border agents quickly expel migrants. out of concern that they would spread the coronavirus.
The Texas governor’s stance has not wavered despite reports from the Department of Homeland Security that illegal border crossings have decreased since Title 42 was lifted. On May 22, he hosted nine Republican governors in Austin for a briefing on Texas border operations. Youngkin, McMaster, Reynolds and Lee attended, according to Abbott’s office.
Approximately 5,500 Texas National Guard soldiers are deployed in Operation Lone Star, which began about two years ago in partnership with the Texas State Police. At his peak in late 2021, Abbott said he deployed around 10,000 Guardsmen.
This job is separate from a federal border mission, which has about 4,000 National Guardsmen and active duty troops authorized to serve along the entire Southwest border in support of US Customs and Border Protection agents.
Youngkin described the importance of sending troops as part of Virginia’s fight against fentanyl, a synthetic opioid often caught smuggling into the United States from Mexico. The drug can be fatal in small doses. An average of five Virginians die every day from a fentanyl overdose, she said.