PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem will visit National Guard troops she deployed to the U.S. border with Mexico on Monday.
She says she is making the flight to the border city of McAllen, Texas, to check in on the roughly 50 National Guard members who volunteered for a 30-day deployment and let them know “we appreciate their service.”
Noem joined the political fight with President Joe Biden over a surge in border crossings. She deployed the Guard members to aid Texas’ push to arrest people crossing the border illegally and charge them with state crimes.
Among the governors who have joined Gov. Greg Abbott’s initiative, Noem and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are the only ones to stage news conferences at the border.
The governor of Florida explained his presence was due to migration over Texas’ border and to Florida during the press conference. He said after speaking to border sheriffs and volunteers, 95% of methamphetamine coming into Florida is coming through Texas. Additionally, DeSantis said 70% of traffickers who’ve been interdicted by officials said Florida was their “ultimate destination.”
Both Abbott and DeSantis urged the federal government to intervene more actively, with the Florida governor saying he wanted previous policies by the Trump administration to be reinstated.
“It’s irresponsible right now with what we see across the country to shortchange law enforcement,” Noem told the crowd at a conservative conference in Texas this month, alluding to rising crime in some American cities.
Noem was criticized for accepting $1 million from a Republican donor to fund the deployment, reported the AP. Military experts said it set a troubling precedent that sent a message that military troops could be deployed at the behest of private donors.
But Noem brushed aside those concerns, and instead cast the donation as proof she is fiscally conservative. By accepting the donation, she argued, she was saving taxpayer money. And she was already eager to join the border fight when Tennessee billionaire Willis Johnson called with his $1 million offer — she was just deliberating whether to send police officers or National Guard troops.
Texas authorities last week began arresting people along the border on trespassing charges. At least 10 people were jailed, but the number of migrant arrests could increase to as many as 100 or 200 per day, according to authorities, according to the Associated Press.
U.S. officials reported this month they had encountered 55,805 members of families with children in June, which was up 25% from the previous month. That figure still remains far below the high of 88,587 in May 2019.
As Noem visits the troops Monday in McAllen, she will also step into a border policy debate.
“It’s broken today,” she said. “We’ve talked about it forever. I would say even my party has failed to put forward a comprehensive immigration reform program.”
The press conference is set to begin at 6:30 p.m. CT, and will be streamed live in this article.