MCALLEN, T.X. (KELO) — Governor Kristi Noem visited South Dakota National Guardsmen stationed in McAllen, Texas on Tuesday.
Reporters there asked her if the visit was a political stunt.
“I don’t believe so. This is all official business, this is what I do. I do my job, I support our troops. A lot of times you can’t speak to something unless you see it with your own eyes,” said South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
The troops stationed here are not just standing guard for America and the state of Texas. According to Noem, they’re directly protecting South Dakotans.
“The drugs that come into South Dakota come over this border. The human trafficking that we see on our streets comes over this border,” Noem said.
Noem says meth, heroin and fentanyl are South Dakota’s biggest problem drugs and that all three flow across this border to South Dakota Indian reservations.
“Remember, South Dakota has nine Native American tribes and I don’t have any jurisdiction what happens on those reservations. So a lot of Mexican cartels have a presence on a couple of our reservations and the drugs end up filtering through there and throughout the Midwest,” Noem said.
Noem says she would like to send more troops to Texas if the state can afford it.
“That’s exactly what I need to do, is to go home and put a pencil to it, to figure out what capacity we have to continue to fund this on our own. I plan to ask Texas if they would be willing to reimburse us for some of the costs as well,” Noem said.
Cost aside, Noem says the troops here want to stay at the border as long as they’re needed.
“The other thing that surprised me was how much my National Guard wants to stay. They recognize that this is not going to be over in 30 days.”
Noem is also planning to send 125 national guardsmen to the border later this year at the request of the federal government. That deployment will run for nine to twelve months.