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Gianforte Announces National Guard Deployment To Texas Border

Gianforte Announces National  Guard Deployment To Texas Border Gianforte Announces National  Guard Deployment To Texas Border

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Tuesday, April 2, that the state is deploying a small number of Montana National Guard troops to the nation’s southern border, describing the action as an effort to help the state of Texas police cross-border drug trafficking in light of what he described as inaction by the federal government.

According to the announcement, 10 Montana National Guardsmen have volunteered for active duty as part of Texas’ Operation Lone Star. The Guardsmen are scheduled to arrive in Texas this week and return home May 12.

In a statement, Montana National Guard Adjutant General J. Peter Hronek compared the deployment to lending a hand with disaster response work around hurricanes, flooding and fires.“The soldiers and airmen of the Montana National Guard are always ready to respond to requests for support from our fellow states,” Hronek said.

A spokesperson for Gianforte said the exact location of the deployment will not be disclosed until its completion due to “safety and security concerns.” The Guardsmen will assist with vehicle maintenance and repair, spokesperson Kaitlin Price said.

The estimated cost of the deployment is $227,000, according to Price, a sum that will be paid from a section of the state budget set aside for responses to disaster declarations. According to reporting by Lee newspapers, a team of 20 Montana National Guardsmen previously participated in a U.S. Customs and Border Protection task force focused on combating drug trafficking and organized crime at the southern border for most of 2023, though Montana did not publicly announce that deployment. The announcement that Montana Guardsmen are being sent to support the Texas mission comes as Gianforte and other Republican governors have become increasingly critical of how the administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat who is up for re-election in November, is handling border policy.

“President Biden has left our southern border completely exposed and overrun by drug cartels, who are bringing deadly crime and drugs into our country,” Gianforte said in a statement announcing the deployment. “While he refuses to do his job, Republican governors are stepping up to do it for him.”

Gianforte, who is also up for re-election this year, has made several trips to the U.S.-Mexico border, including in February when he and 13 other GOP governors traveled to Eagle Pass, a Texas border town that’s become the focal point of a legal battle between Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Biden administration over immigration policies.

According to Gianforte’s announcement, Texas had solicited assistance from other states ahead of that visit.

Gianforte is one of 25 Republican governors who signed a January statement vowing to support Texas’ “right to self-defense,” and several states, including Arkansas, Indiana and Tennessee, have already deployed guard units to the Texas- Mexico border. Biden has criticized Republicans for failing to support a major federal border security bill that would have allocated $20 billion in emergency spending for border security and given the president more power to control traffic across the border. That proposal initially drew bipartisan support, but stalled following opposition from former President Donald Trump.

A disaster declaration signed by Gianforte Tuesday formerly declares the Texas border situation an emergency deserving of a mutual aid response from fellow states. It notes that Montana law enforcement officials are seizing growing volumes of fentanyl and declares that “the throes of illegal migrants and fatal drugs pouring across the nation’s Southwest border constitute an invasion.”

A web dashboard maintained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that federal officials processed about 190,000 “encounters” on the nation’s southern border in February, compared to about 157,000 in February 2023 and 101,000 in 2021.


Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and nine other governors from across the country received a briefing on the U.S.-Mexico border from law enforcement officers, toured the southern border, and provided a 10-point plan to resolve the crisis on Oct. 6, 2021.

(Photo from the office of the governor)

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