Indiana Governor Orders National Guard Troops to Deploy for Texas Border Security Mission

Indiana Governor Orders National Guard Troops to Deploy for Texas Border Security Mission
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in East Chicago, Ind., on April 19, 2017. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Ryan Morgan

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has ordered the deployment of 50 Indiana National Guard troops to Texas to assist efforts led by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to block illegal border crossings from Mexico.

“I am sending 50 #Hoosier Guardsmen to the southern border to support the Texas National Guard on their security mission,” Mr. Holcomb wrote in a social media post on Friday morning. “These soldiers will begin mobilizing for the mission immediately and will arrive in Texas in mid-March.”
The Indiana governor’s office announced the 50 Indiana National Guard troops selected for the mission will spend a week at the Camp Atterbury Indiana National Guard base training for the operation “and will then deploy to Texas for ten months.”

With this troop deployment, Mr. Holcomb will become one of 13 governors using his state’s troops to assist Texas in border security missions.

Mr. Abbott began his state-level border security mission, dubbed “Operation Lone Star” in March of 2021, in response to a marked rise in illegal border crossings and drug and human smuggling operations at the border under President Joe Biden’s administration. Various Republican governors have sent resources to assist Mr. Abbott in this effort since 2021.

“Operation Lone Star” has been directly opposed at times by the Biden administration.

The Biden administration has specifically taken issue in the past with a floating barrier Mr. Abbott ordered deployed in the Rio Grande, to prevent people from crossing the waterway from Mexico into Texas, and has won an injunction to have the floating barrier removed.

The Biden administration has also challenged the Abbott administration’s use of razor-wire and other physical barriers along the banks of the Texas side of the Rio Grande and has taken legal steps to get permission to remove the barriers.  They are being used to block people from entering the United States illegally between designated ports of entry. In January, the U.S. Supreme Court granted an injunction sought by the Biden administration, permitting the federal government to remove Texas’ border barriers as legal challenges over the border security issue continue to play out.
Even after the Supreme Court granted the Biden administration permission to remove the Texas border barriers, Mr. Abbott has continued efforts to block illegal border crossings. Republican governors have, in turn, continued to express support for Mr. Abbott’s efforts.

Mr. Holcomb was one of 25 Republican governors who signed onto a statement declaring the Biden administration has “completely vulnerable to unprecedented illegal immigration pouring across the Southern border” and expressing solidarity with Mr. Abbott.

“Federal negligence enforcing immigration law and the failure to secure our country’s border jeopardizes national and economic security, affecting every state, including Indiana,” Mr. Holcomb said upon announcing his troop deployment on Friday. “We’ve worked too hard in Indiana attacking the drug epidemic for more Hoosier lives to be put at risk by a constant supply of killer drugs spilled over an open U.S. border. The only way to resolve this is to stop the historically high flow of illegal immigrants crossing the border.”

Indiana has supported past National Guard deployments to the U.S. southern border. According to Mr. Holcomb’s press statement, 300 Indiana National Guard troops have deployed to the U.S. southern border since October 2020. Indiana National Guard troops were deployed at the southern border as recently as October 2023.

Democrats Seek to Cut Off National Guard Border Deployments

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Jan. 16, prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, that Mr. Abbott’s border efforts as “political stunts” and has said this Texas-led move to stop illegal immigration “is causing harm” and “not fixing the problem.”

Some Democrats have urged the Biden administration to federalize National Guard troops in order to block off a key source of manpower for Mr. Abbott’s state-level border security mission.

“Governor Greg Abbott is using the Texas National Guard to obstruct and create chaos at the border. If Abbott is defying yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling, [President Biden] needs to establish sole federal control of the Texas National Guard now,” Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) wrote on Jan. 23.
Mr. Castro’s suggestion was endorsed by Rep. Greg Casar (D-Texas).

Governors typically control their state’s National Guard troops, but the president of the United States may call National Guard troops into federal service to respond to an invasion or rebellion, or if he declares some other emergency.

Thus far, the Biden administration has not taken steps to federalize the National Guard forces to subvert Mr. Abbott’s efforts at the border.

A group of 24 House Republicans sent a letter to President Biden on Thursday, arguing that efforts to federalize the Texas National Guard to thwart Mr. Abbott could be unconstitutional.