(The Center Square) – Tennessee will send 100 National Guard troops to Texas by the end of the month to help with border security efforts.
Gov. Bill Lee made the announcement just days after meeting with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and eight other Republican governors in Austin to discuss how they can provide assistance to Texas’ Operation Lone Star.
Lee authorized the deployment of 100 Tennessee National Guard troops to Texas to “secure the U.S. Southern border amid an ongoing national security crisis and surging drug crisis being fueled by an open border.
“America continues to face an unprecedented border crisis that threatens our nation’s security and the safety of Tennesseans,” Lee said. “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.”
The Tennessee National Guard members will deploy at the end of the month to work with Texas Military Department soldiers involved in Operation Lone Star operations. They will patrol and provide additional security presence along the border, assist with road and route clearance, barrier placement and debris removal, and staff outpost operations, the governor said.
Lee met with Abbott and other governors on Monday after he and a total of 24 of his colleagues pledged their support to help Texas secure its border with Mexico. They did so within hours of Abbott requesting assistance from all governors 10 days ago.
Since January 2021, an estimated 7.7 million foreign nationals worldwide have illegally entered the U.S., with the majority entering through Texas, which shares the longest border with Mexico. Despite the Biden administration maintaining that the border is closed, in the first four months of this year, illegal border crossers have outnumbered the population of six U.S. states.
When pledging their support, the governors, including Lee, said in a jointly signed letter, “While the federal government has abdicated its duties, Republican governors stand ready to protect the U.S.-Mexico border and keep families safe.
“Texas Governor Greg Abbott has exemplified leadership at a critical time, leading the way with Operation Lone Star, and deploying the Texas Tactical Border Force to prevent illegal crossings and keep the border secure. We support the efforts to secure the border led by Governor Abbott.”
The Tennessee National Guard under Lee has previously supported border security efforts, including 300 soldiers stationed at the southern border in July 2021 and another 50 he authorized to be deployed there in December 2021.
“The men and women of the Tennessee National Guard are always ready to serve their country anywhere, anytime,” Brigadier General Warner Ross, Tennessee’s Adjutant General, said. “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.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday announced that more than 436 Florida National Guard personnel had completed initial orientation and were on-scene completing mission sets with Texas National Guard counterparts. Over 100 Florida Highway Patrol officers, 40 Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents and other personnel and equipment had also been deployed to Texas. Florida law enforcement officers have already made arrests and seized a range of drugs, DeSantis said.
Like Tennessee guardsmen, Florida law enforcement officers have also previously been deployed to the southern border in 2021.
Since Texas OLS launched in April 2021, as of May 19, Texas OLS officers have apprehended more than 376,000 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 28,000 criminal arrests, with over 25,000 felony charges reported. They’ve also seized over 416 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill more than everyone in the United States, according to data from Abbott’s office.
This article First appeared in the center square