INDIANAPOLIS — Under pressure from fellow Republicans, Gov. Eric Holcomb on Friday announced he would deploy 50 Indiana National Guard soldiers to Texas’ border with Mexico “effective immediately.”
He previously joined a dozen other governors at the border for a news conference, during which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised to expand his border strategy.
“Federal negligence enforcing immigration law and the failure to secure our country’s border jeopardizes national and economic security, affecting every state, including Indiana,” Holcomb said in a news release.
“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,” he added. “The only way to resolve this is to stop the historically high flow of illegal immigrants crossing the border.”
Abbott and a growing number of Republican governors say President Joe Biden’s administration isn’t doing enough to stem the flow of unauthorized migrants. Texas and the federal government are clashing over a recent U.S. Supreme Court order on razor wire, access to a park along the border and more.
States like Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Virginia previously or currently had their own guard soldiers deployed in Texas, according to a recent Newsweek article.
Holcomb noted he was sending 50 soldiers after a “recent direct request” from Abbott.
The soldiers are mobilizing now, he said, and will have a week of training at Camp Atterbury on the “operations of the mission.” They’re expected to arrive in Texas in mid-March and will deploy for 10 months.
Holcomb added that he’s had about 300 soldiers collectively deployed to Texas multiple times during his time in office for “various federal missions.”
Indiana Capital Chronicle requested projected costs of the mission, from salary of the guardsmen to housing and food costs. But Major V. Gino Georgetti, director of Strategic Communications/Public Affairs of the Indiana National Guard, didn’t answer the question.
“The Indiana National Guard is uniquely trained, equipped and capable of mobilizing whenever and wherever called upon. As directed by the Governor, Hoosier Guardsmen are preparing immediately to mobilize to support the Texas National Guard on their border mission. The state has sufficient funds to support the mobilization. Additional details are not available at this time.”
The move came after pressure from other Republicans, including a “demand” from gubernatorial candidate Curtis Hill, a former state attorney general. Holcomb is term-limited and is not in the race.
Others lauded his decision on Friday.
“This crisis stems from a clear failure from Washington D.C. to secure our border, and I’m in full support of Gov. Holcomb’s decision to send Hoosier National Guard members to help. Under the Biden Administration, Texas has had to deal with a tsunami-size wave of illegal immigration and drugs coming from across the border, leaving them and the rest of nation vulnerable as the problem spreads. I’m proud of Indiana for taking a stand and supporting Texas,” said State Rep. Ryan Lauer, R-Columbus.
“I fully support Governor Holcomb’s decision to send members of our state’s committed and hardworking National Guard to support Texas and their efforts to stop the wave of illegal immigration and drugs into their state and ultimately to the rest of our country,” powerful Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston said in a statement. “The men and women in our guard are always ready to answer the call of duty, and I’m proud that Indiana is among the states to stand up against the Biden Administration’s dangerous and open border policies.”
“Illegal immigration is not just a Texas problem, but an issue that concerns every state’s right to sovereignty and safety. Indiana has a strong track record of helping the Lone Star State secure the southern border, and now is the time to act. I pray for the well-being of these Hoosiers as they prepare to join Texas’ effort to bolster our nation’s security,” said State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour.
Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray similarly said he was “supportive” of the move, calling out a “profound lack of leadership” within the federal government and asserting gratefulness to guard soldiers.
The Indiana Capital Chronicle covers state government and the state legislature. For more, visit indianacapitalchronicle.com.