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New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said in a press release Monday that the two units would be dispatched to the border in response to a federal mobilization order from the Department of Defense. This is the second time in two years that the Granite State has sent National Guardsmen to assist U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at the border, as the crisis continues under the Biden administration.
“New Hampshire is grateful for the heroic men and women of our National Guard,” Sununu said in the press release. “They answered the call to serve during the COVID pandemic, and are now answering our nation’s call — deploying to the ongoing humanitarian crisis along our southern border. As these brave men and women deploy, New Hampshire stands by our National Guard and we wish everyone a safe and speedy return home.”
According to the release, approximately 44 soldiers from the 941st Military Police Battalion headquarters will be deployed to a sector of the border approximately 250 miles long that extends to the Gulf of Mexico. From there, those soldiers will be deployed to provide command and control over four other subordinate companies from New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Illinois, and Kentucky, approximately 500 soldiers in total. The border deployment is the unit’s first.
In addition to the 941st Battalion, another group of soldiers, approximately 120, from the 237th Military Police Company, will also be deployed, primarily to surveillance sites along the same sector. The guardsmen will communicate with Border Patrol agents, identifying and notifying agents of any illegal border crossings, to assist their efforts to stem the flow of migrants, illegal drugs, weapons, and money. However, the soldiers are prohibited from actually interacting with border crossers.
Both units will be deployed for a year.
Both units supported New Hampshire’s response efforts during the height of the COVID pandemic, assisted the Department of Corrections during a staffing shortage at state prisons in 2021, supported local hospitals, and responded to civil disturbances during the protests after the death of George Floyd. The 237th company also previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 and 2013.
The press release also noted that a previous National Guard unit deployed to the southwest border between October 2020 and November 2021; the soldiers on that deployment assisted in more than 200,000 apprehensions, drug seizures totaling more than $893 million, and 20 migrant lives saved.
Local news outlet WMUR reported Monday that the deployment came in response to a federal mobilization order from the Department of Defense. More than 12 states deployed Guard units from their state to assist the effort, Sununu told WMUR. The Guard’s presence “will allow the agents to focus more on the ground and dealing with people coming directly across the border,” New Hampshire National Guard spokesman Greg Heilshorn told the outlet.
The border crisis has continued to escalate under the Biden administration. Authorities made more than two million arrests of illegal immigrants at the border during fiscal year 2022, the first time border officials crossed that threshold.
In September, House Republicans sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas demanding answers after reports surfaced that Venezuela was sending criminals across the border. In addition to the flow of migrants, lethal drugs like fentanyl have also been pouring across the border at high rates.