Arkansas to send 80 troops to the border

Sanders: Mission planned for July

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/BENJAMIN KRAIN 11-13-06.An infared telescope helps an Army and Air National Guard Joint Task Force spot immigrant illegally crossing the border into Arizona. The joint task force has greatly increased the number of immigrants captured by the Border Patrol.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/BENJAMIN KRAIN 11-13-06.An infared telescope helps an Army and Air National Guard Joint Task Force spot immigrant illegally crossing the border into Arizona. The joint task force has greatly increased the number of immigrants captured by the Border Patrol.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Thursday that the Arkansas National Guard will send 80 guardsmen to the southern border on July 1 to provide surveillance and reconnaissance support to the Texas National Guard.

The soldiers will support border control efforts along the U.S. border with Mexico through the entire month of July, according to the governor's office.

Sanders' spokeswoman Alexa Henning said the state's cost of the upcoming deployment will be about $1.3 million.

"President Biden's failure at our southern border puts the entire country at risk," Sanders said in a news release. "States must now step up where the President has failed to repel illegals, fight the cartels and stop human and drug trafficking."

The Arkansas guardsmen will provide increased detection and help bolster tracking capabilities in addition to adding surveillance and reconnaissance support, according to the release.

Sanders' announcement came on the heels of similar ones by three other Republican state leaders.

On Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice made public their decisions to deploy guardsmen to the border in support of Operation Lone Star, launched by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in 2021.

Abbott has contended since the start of the operation that the Biden administration has been too soft when it comes to border policy.

After the expiration of Title 42 last month, Abbott and other Republican governors have sounded more alarms and are adding more boots to the ground along the border.

Title 42 was the name of an emergency health authority that was started by then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 during the covid-19 pandemic. It allowed U.S. officials to promptly turn away migrants who entered the U.S. from Mexico to help prevent further spread of covid-19.

Sanders has long been critical of the federal government's immigration and border control policies.

In her Republican address to the nation after Biden's State of the Union address in February, Sanders said the Biden administration inherited "the most secure border in history" and took it in the reverse direction.

"Despite Democrats' trillions in reckless spending and mountains of debt," she said in her televised speech, "we now have the worst border crisis in American history."

Sanders also said during her speech that the country's fentanyl epidemic has grown worse now that the drug is "pouring across our Southern border."

The Arkansas National Guard has deployed troops to the border on previous occasions.

In April 2018, then-Gov. Asa Hutchinson offered the support of the Arkansas National Guard to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, citing previous missions.

In June of that year, Hutchinson sent about 150 guardsmen to the border.

Sanders' office also noted that from June 2006 to July 2008, guardsmen were deployed in support of Operation Jump Start, providing more than 750 soldiers and airmen in support of the U.S. Border Patrol.

They were among thousands of guardsmen from several states who were mobilized for the effort announced by then-President George W. Bush.

In an email at the time, then Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders' father, said he had been advised the mission "would be within our capacity and not overly strain our needs here."

"The president thinks it is [important], and since it's his order to call them up, I will accept that it will be helpful," Huckabee said in the email.

Sanders' office also said Thursday that 50 members of the Arkansas National Guard are already conducting operations in Texas.

"The Arkansas National Guard is uniquely qualified to assist with border control operations," Maj. Gen. Jonathan Stubbs, adjutant general for the Arkansas National Guard, said in the release. "Our Soldiers and Airmen have been providing these same capabilities to combatant commanders and local law enforcement agencies for years."

Arkansas guardsmen have deployed to Texas for reasons other than immigration. In August 2017, Arkansas sent more than 1,000 guardsmen to Houston to assist with search-and-rescue missions and supply deliveries when the city endured a devastating flood.

Information for this article was contributed by The Associated Press.