Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Deploying Arkansas National Guard Troops to Assist Texas Border Mission

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Deploying Arkansas National Guard Troops to Assist Texas Border Mission
Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks at a press conference on Nov. 17, 2023. (Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders Facebook/Screenshot via NTD)

Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is deploying some of her state’s National Guard troops to Texas to help slow illegal border crossings into the state.

On Tuesday, the Arkansas governor announced plans to deploy 40 National Guard troops from her state. She said this deployment would begin on April 1 and last approximately two months, until May 30.

The deployment comes as Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues efforts to slow the flow of illegal border crossings through his state in an effort dubbed “Operation Lone Star.” The operation has seen Texas National Guard and Texas state law enforcement officials place barriers along the Rio Grande and conduct arrests and seizures of drugs smuggled across the border.

Mr. Abbott has routinely criticized President Joe Biden for not doing more to bar non-citizens from sneaking across the U.S. southern border to enter the country. Numerous other Republican state governors have shared Mr. Abbott’s criticism of Biden administration border security efforts and have deployed their own state-level resources to assist the Texas governor.

“President Biden opened our southern border to an invasion of illegal immigrants, drugs, and human trafficking and is now criticizing Texas for stepping up where his administration has failed,” Ms. Sanders said upon announcing the latest effort to assist Operation Lone Star. “I’ve seen the crisis our President created firsthand, and I know the incredible men and women of the Arkansas Guard can help supplement Texas’ efforts to keep our border secure and our states safe.”

Ms. Sanders previously deployed about 80 Arkansas National Guard troops to Texas in July of 2023. Her Republican predecessor, Gov. Asa Hutchinson, also deployed 40 National Guard troops to Texas for a 90-day stretch in the summer of 2021.

“The Arkansas National Guard has a rich history of helping neighboring states in a crisis,” Maj. Gen. Jonathan Stubbs, the Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, said on Tuesday. “We assisted Texas last year, and have done so under previous administrations. Our Soldiers will be well prepared and ready to assist the Texas National Guard’s operations.”

Texas Deportation Law in Legal Limbo

At the moment, the Abbott administration faces limitations in its border enforcement effort.

While Operation Lone Star has seen National Guard troops lay out razor wire and other barriers to impede crossings along the Rio Grande, federal border authorities have cut through these razor wire lines in order to take illegal border crossers into custody on the U.S. side of the border. In a 5-4 January decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Biden administration’s right to remove these border barriers.

The Abbott administration and the Texas state legislature have tried to avoid having to care for non-citizens arriving in the state, many of whom are given a court date and are permitted to temporarily remain in the United States after they’ve been apprehended attempting an illegal border crossing. Under Operation Lone Star, Texas has taken tens of thousands of these non-citizens temporarily permitted into the United States and transported them to so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions like New York City and Washington D.C., which are jurisdictions that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement efforts.

The Texas legislature also passed a law last year, signed by Mr. Abbott in December, allowing state and local authorities in Texas to arrest people who have illegally crossed the U.S.–Mexico border and subject them to deportation proceedings at the state level. The Biden administration sued to challenge the Texas state-level immigration law, and the law remains in legal limbo.

A panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had previously allowed Texas to move ahead with enforcement of this state-level immigration law. The Biden administration had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule the appeals court, but the high court rejected that request on Tuesday. Hours after the Supreme Court upheld the initial 5th Circuit Court opinion, another panel on the same federal appeals court ruled that Texas should not be allowed to proceed with enforcement of its state-level immigration and deportation efforts, once again putting the law back on hold.

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