Governor Bill Lee (R-TN) authorized Thursday the deployment of 100 Tennessee National Guard troops to help secure the southern border in the wake of record-level crossings and illegal entries into the United States.
Lee joins other Republican governors, like Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in sending help to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has called on the Biden administration to take stronger measures to stop the flood of people crossing into the U.S. from Mexico.
“America continues to face an unprecedented border crisis that threatens our nation’s security and the safety of Tennesseans,” Lee said in a statement obtained by The Daily Wire. “The federal government owes Americans a plan to secure our country, and in the meantime, states continue to answer this important call to service. I am again authorizing the Tennessee National Guard to help secure the Southern border, and I commend these troops for providing critical support.”
According to the governor’s office, the Tennessee troops will help patrol along the border, help with barrier placement, clear roads, and assist with outpost operations as part of Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star.” This is not the first time that Tennesseans have been sent to the border, as Lee also sent about 50 troops to the border in December 2021.
“The men and women of the Tennessee National Guard are always ready to serve their country anywhere, anytime,” said Brigadier General Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “These troops are a capable contingent that will continue our long-standing tradition of responding to the call to aid our fellow Americans. The Tennessee National Guard is proud to serve and support our state partners in safeguarding the United States along the U.S. Southern border.”
Illegal crossings at the border have remained high under President Joe Biden, whose administration saw the record for most crossings in the days surrounding the expiration of Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allowed Border Patrol to turn away migrants based on COVID concerns. According to Border Patrol, roughly 83,000 people crossed the border the week that Title 42 ended.
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Lee’s actions follow a joint statement from 24 Republican governors who called out the Biden administration for its policies at the border and in support of Abbott.
“All states have suffered from the effects of deadly illegal drugs coming across the border, and every state is a border state due to the devastating influx of drugs in our communities. Republican governors are leading the way to address the border crisis by increasing fentanyl sentencing and increasing support for law enforcement interdiction of drugs, among other measures,” the governors said.
Drug deaths have been a particular focus for lawmakers as dangerous drugs have continued to be smuggled across the border. In Tennessee, the state’s bureau of investigation has raised alarm bells over drugs linked to Mexican cartels that it says are “very engaged in operations in Tennessee.”