Texas National Guard soldiers install additional razor wire lie along the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Jan. 10, 2024. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Louisiana has pledged to send National Guard troops to Texas to bolster local efforts to secure the southern border amid the Lone Star State’s ongoing dispute with the Biden administration over border security.
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry, a Republican, announced the move at a Feb. 8 news conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, amid congressional failure to secure a border deal.
“Because the president will not do his job, because the federal government will not act, because Congress refuses to put in place a solid immigration plan that protects this country and allows people to come in and out of this country the way that it’s been done since the beginning, then the states are going to act,” he said.
Mr. Landry said Louisiana would send 150 National Guard troops, who would work in three 50-man rotations, for a 90-day deployment to Texas.
Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry speaks during the start of the special session in the House chamber in Baton Rouge, La., on Jan. 15, 2024. (Michael Johnson/The Advocate via AP, Pool)
The deployment—scheduled for March at a cost of roughly $3 million—is needed to help Texas tackle issues such as cross-border human trafficking and the fentanyl crisis, he said.
“There are 125,000 Americans that we are losing on an annual basis due to this crisis,” Mr. Landry said, citing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s recent announcement that 30,000 pounds of fentanyl had been seized at the border in Texas.
“That’s enough to kill almost everyone in the country,” he said.
The Louisiana governor said President Joe Biden’s attitude and policies on the border are encouraging waves of illegal immigration. He accused the Biden administration of having basically “dog-whistled those who are trying to come into the country illegally by saying, ‘Listen, if you swim across the Rio Grande, we will let you in that way.’”
Brig. Gen. Michael Greer, director of the Louisiana Military Department, who spoke alongside Mr. Landry at a news conference on Feb. 8, was asked about what actions the Louisiana National Guard troops would be authorized to take once deployed.
He said the Louisiana troops wouldn’t be detaining any illegal border crossers that they might encounter.
“We will refer those to local law enforcement, who have the responsibility to make those arrests,” Brig. Gen. Greer said.
A Texas National Guard soldier watches over a group of more than 1,000 migrants who had crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, on Dec. 18, 2023. (John Moore/Getty Images)
‘Dysfunction’ in Washington
Mr. Landry said the deployment still needs to clear several formal hurdles to become reality, including approval by the state’s GOP-controlled Legislature.
The governor also addressed the “dysfunction” on Capitol Hill, where a border bill that included funding for the Ukraine war failed to pass
“We are standing here today because the federal government refuses to act, because the president refuses to do his job,” Mr. Landry said, adding that he believes there’s too much focus in Washington on securing Ukraine’s borders but “no one wants to talk about the amount of deadly drugs, human trafficking, the women and children that are being trafficked through an open [U.S.–Mexico] border.”
With the move to deploy the National Guard to Texas, Louisiana joins other Republican-led states including Florida and Indiana that have sent or pledged troops.
A coalition of 27 states has formed to support Texas’s right to defend itself after the Supreme Court ruled that federal agents can remove the razor wire put up by Texas to prevent the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico.
It’s estimated that more than 10 million illegal immigrants have crossed the border since President Biden took office.
Florida, Indiana Sending Troops
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently announced plans to deploy even more National Guard, State Guard, and Highway Patrol officers to assist Texas in securing its southern border.
“If we don’t have a border, then we are not a sovereign country,” Mr. DeSantis said in Jacksonville, Florida, on Feb. 1. “You either have a border, or you don’t. You’re either a sovereign country, or you’re not.
“So what we’re doing today is we’re stepping up yet again. We’re helping, and I know other states have done a lot, and I’m pretty sure some of these other states are going to do more.”
He said Florida stands ready to deploy members of its own State Guard and up to a full battalion of its National Guard, which is roughly 1,000 soldiers.
Florida has been helping Texas secure its border since 2021, and has deployed more than 700 members of the state’s National Guard.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said on Feb. 9 that he had ordered the deployment of 50 Indiana National Guard troops to Texas to assist with border security efforts.
“I am sending 50 #Hoosier Guardsmen to the southern border to support the Texas National Guard on their security mission,” Mr. Holcomb wrote in a social media post
on the morning of Feb. 9. “These soldiers will begin mobilizing for the mission immediately and will arrive in Texas in mid-March.”
The Indiana governor’s office announced
that the 50 Indiana National Guard troops selected for the mission will spend a week at the Camp Atterbury Indiana National Guard base training for the operation. They will then be deployed to Texas for 10 months.
Ryan Morgan and T.J. Muscaro contributed to this report.