Missouri Deploys Hundreds of Troops to Southern Border in Texas

Gov. Mike Parson said the soldiers and police officers will start their U.S. border duties early next month.
Missouri Deploys Hundreds of Troops to Southern Border in Texas
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson listens to a media question during a press conference in Jefferson City, Mo., on May 29, 2019. (Jacob Moscovitch/Getty Images)
Lorenz Duchamps

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced this week that the state will deploy up to 200 of its National Guard soldiers and 22 state highway patrol troopers to support operations in Texas to secure portions of the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a statement on Feb. 20, the Republican governor said he witnessed “a crisis” that is directly fueling America’s drug crisis.

“About two weeks ago, I visited the Southern Border, and let me not mince words when I say it is a crisis,” Mr. Parson said.

The Biden administration’s border policies have fueled the fentanyl crisis in Missouri, he added.

“Missourians are dying; families are being ripped apart; communities are being destroyed, and Missouri children are falling victim. It all stems from the Biden Administration’s reckless, irresponsible, and failing open-border policies. With our Southern Border wide open, every state is now a border state.”

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the fentanyl epidemic is getting worse in the Show-Me State, and data released by the agency shows a sharp rise in the number of overdose deaths since 2016.

Data points to 2,163 overdose deaths in Missouri in 2021, up from 1,366 in 2017, and health officials say roughly 70 percent of these deaths were caused by synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

“President Biden and the federal government must step up to stop illegal entry into our nation, to stop the free flow of fentanyl into our communities, and combat the rise of human trafficking, but we’ve waited long enough. Missouri will act by deploying our own resources to secure our nation’s border,” Mr. Parson said.

Additionally, Mr. Parson also sent a $2.3 million supplemental budget request to his state’s Legislature to “support border security efforts and backfill the Governor’s Office’s emergency response fund.”

Red States Support Texas

According to Mr. Parson’s office, newly deployed troops and law enforcement officials will be tasked with helping to secure the border, prevent illegal immigration, and stop illicit drug and human trafficking.

Besides fulfilling these responsibilities, the 22 Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers—who all volunteered for Mr. Parson’s assignment—will work to support traffic enforcement, crime prevention, criminal interdiction, and help other law enforcement agencies as needed, starting on March 1, his office said.

The 200 Missouri National Guard soldiers, who will start their tasks on March 10, will also assist with constructing physical barriers and security patrols, it added.

Mr. Parson’s announcement comes as more red state soldiers and police officers have recently been sent to the Lone Star State to assist with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission dubbed “Operation Lone Star”—an effort the Republican governor launched in March 2021 in response to a marked rise in illegal border crossings and drug and human smuggling operations at the border.

On Feb. 20, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem ordered 60 of the state’s National Guard troops to deploy to the southern border to help with Texas’s border security mission.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem speaks at the Calvin Coolidge Foundation conference at the Library of Congress in Washington, on Feb. 17, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem speaks at the Calvin Coolidge Foundation conference at the Library of Congress in Washington, on Feb. 17, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Ms. Noem, a Republican, said that the soldiers will deploy to the U.S.-Mexico border later this spring on a rolling basis over a period of three months.

“The border is a warzone, so we’re sending soldiers,” she said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb similarly ordered the deployment of 50 Indiana National Guard soldiers to the southern border to help Texas deal with record-shattering waves of illegal immigration.

“These soldiers will begin mobilizing for the mission immediately and will arrive in Texas in mid-March,” Mr. Holcomb said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also recently announced plans to deploy even more National Guard, State Guard, and Highway Patrol officers to assist Texas in securing its southern border.

“If we don’t have a border, then we are not a sovereign country,” Mr. DeSantis said on Feb. 1. “You either have a border, or you don’t. You’re either a sovereign country, or you’re not.”

What’s Happening in Texas?

Amid a surge in illegal immigration, Mr. Abbott in September declared an “invasion” at the southern border. He then ordered the Texas National Guard and state law enforcement agencies to secure the border, including by setting up razor wire and marine barriers.

The effort has been directly opposed at times by the Biden administration, which specifically has 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.

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, which were 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’s 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.

Meanwhile, some Democrats have called on the Biden administration to federalize National Guard troops to block off a key source of manpower for Mr. Abbott’s state-level border security mission.

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.

Ryan Morgan contributed to this report.