Republican governors 1,000+ miles away from southern border send state police and National Guard to Texas amid cries of a “crisis”

Republican governors across the country are sending National Guard troops and police officers to the southern border amid rightwing claims of an immigration “crisis” and “failure” of Biden’s leadership.

The straight-line distance from the capital of South Dakota to the nearest section of the Texas-Mexico border is approx. 930 miles.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (R) announced last week that she is sending up to 50 of the state’s Guard to Texas to “secure the border between the United States and Mexico.”

“The border is a national security crisis that requires the kind of sustained response only the National Guard can provide,” Noem said. “We should not be making our own communities less safe by sending our police or Highway Patrol to fix a long-term problem President Biden’s Administration seems unable or unwilling to solve. My message to Texas is this: help is on the way.”

Unusually, Noem is paying for the deployment with money from a private donor. The Tennessee-based Willis and Reba Johnson’s Foundation, created by an online car auction billionaire, typically donates to Christian organizations. Brentwood Baptist Church has received millions of dollars from the couple. Also in recent years: donations to the NRA and an anti-abortion pregnancy resource center in California.

As an individual (rather than a foundation), Willis Johnson gave the maximum legal donation last year to the campaigns of Sen. Mitch McConnell, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Rep. Mark Green, former Rep. Kelly Loeffler, and former President Donald Trump. Reba Johnson also gave the maximum individual contribution to Green and Trump.

Is it legal for a governor to send privately-funded National Guard troops to another state? The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (PDF) makes clear that it is legal for a state to request assistance from another state’s Guard, but the requesting state is to pay for “the provision of any service in answering a request for aid and for the costs incurred in connection with such requests.” However, there is nothing in the Compact that says private funding cannot be used. And there’s no clear South Dakota law prohibiting it, either.

So the governor appears to have found a gray area that allows what is essentially a private army to act separately from the federal government at the border. Who are they ultimately accountable to? What laws are they enforcing? And what happens if they overstep their authority? These are all important questions that we don’t have answers to.

The closest straight-line distance from the capital of Ohio to the Texas-Mexico border is approx. 1,250 miles.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced yesterday that he will be sending 14 state Highway Patrol troopers to the southern border to assist with border surveillance. While his state has sent 115 National Guard members to the border – and approved an additional deployment of 185 for later this year, that was at the request of the federal government. The state officers were sent in response to Gov. Abbott’s request.

Also, unlike other governors, DeWine did not release a statement explicitly tying the deployment to criticism of the Biden administration.

The straight-line distance from the capital of Iowa to the nearest Texas-Mexico border is approx. 940 miles.

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds (R) revealed last month that she is sending 25-30 State Patrol officers to the southern border “to aid law enforcement and border security efforts.” Reynolds’ press release was short on details of the deployment and full of fearmongering over the danger of immigration:

“The rise in drugs, human trafficking, and violent crime has become unsustainable. Iowa has no choice but to act…”

The straight-line distance from the capital of Florida to the nearest Texas-Mexico border is approx. 840 miles (over water). The straight-line distance from the capital of Florida to the nearest Arizona-Mexico border section is approx. 1,470 miles.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is sending more than 50 state law enforcement officers to the Texas and Arizona borders with Mexico. These include personnel and resources from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Florida Highway Patrol, and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

DeSantis blamed President Biden for crime in his state, without offering any proof.

“When the Governors of Texas and Arizona reached out for help, Florida answered the call,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “We are witnessing a catastrophe at the southern border under the Biden Administration. In recent months, we have seen people from the terrorist watch list, known sex offenders and a flood of fentanyl cross over the border. This is a national security crisis, and we must get it under control.”

In reality, illegal border crossings are being treated the same under Biden as they were under Trump – with the exception of minors and families. There has been no change that allows “terrorists” and “sex offenders” to suddenly cross the border in the past six months.

The closest straight-line distance from the capital of Nebraska to the Texas-Mexico border is approx. 810 miles.

Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts (R) announced last month that he is sending 25 state patrol troopers to Texas to manage “the ongoing crisis on their border with Mexico.” Like other governors, Ricketts used the deployment as an opportunity to score political points:

“The disastrous policies of the Biden-Harris Administration created an immigration crisis on the border. While the federal government has fallen short in its response, Nebraska is happy to step up to provide assistance to Texas as they work to protect their communities and keep people safe.”

The closest straight-line distance from the capital of Idaho to the Arizona-Mexico border is approx. 780 miles.

Idaho Governor Brad Little (R) revealed on Thursday that he is sending five specialized State Police troopers to Arizona’s southern border to “assist Arizona Department of Public Safety with intelligence gathering and investigative work related to drug interdiction at the border.” His office estimates the cost to taxpayers for the operation will be $53,391. Little used his press release to criticize the Biden administration:

“Biden reversed numerous Trump policies that kept the American people safer, and now our nation’s governors must step up to protect Americans because the Biden-Harris administration won’t. The State of Idaho proudly stands with our fellow Americans along the United States-Mexico border.”

The closest straight-line distance from the capital of Arkansas to the Texas-Mexico border is approx. 630 miles.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson (R) is sending up to 40 National Guard troops to Texas “to assist in our border security,” saying “the crisis on our southern border has reached critical levels.”

Hutchinson provided more details on the deployment than other participating governors. The troops will report to the Texas National Guard task force for direction, but will still be under the command of Arkansas National Guard Maj. Gen. Kendall Penn. He estimates the 90-day operation will cost the state up to $575,000.