Missouri National Guard, Highway Patrol Set to Help at Border with Texas' Operation Lone Star

news conference along the Rio Grande to discuss Operation Lone Star and border concerns
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, seated center, is joined by fellow governors, including Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, during a news conference along the Rio Grande to discuss Operation Lone Star and border concerns, Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, in Eagle Pass, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday announced the activation of roughly 200 Missouri National Guard troops to support Texas' Operation Lone Star at the southern border, a move that has been anticipated for more than two weeks.

"There is complete and utter chaos at the border, and the federal government is failing to do its job to protect the states and our people," Parson said at a news conference late Tuesday afternoon.

Guard members will "assist in the construction of physical barriers and with security patrols as needed."

Parson said he expects the first deployment to be active in Texas on March 10, and rotating groups of National Guard members will be deployed roughly every 30 days. The mission is set to last 90 days, though it could be extended.

"We will continuously work with Texas to evaluate needed support moving forward," Parson said.

Eleven Missouri Highway Patrol troopers will also be in Texas beginning March 1. They will be partnered with Texas troopers, "riding with them in their vehicles near the border and answering calls," said Col. Eric Olson, highway patrol superintendent.

Up to 22 highway patrol troopers could be deployed.

Parson issued an executive order to activate the National Guard for the mission, and he is asking the Legislature for an additional $2.3 million in this year's budget to support it.

Parson framed the state's guard presence in Texas as a response to illegal immigration, human trafficking and a fentanyl crisis that is ripping families apart and destroying communities.

The service members will join about 250 National Guard troops who were previously deployed in Texas.

Guard members from two companies based in Festus and Harrisonville are already assisting U.S. Customs and Border Protection along the southwest border "to enable CBP agents to conduct their law enforcement mission more efficiently," according to a guard spokesperson.

Parson's announcement comes after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday revealed plans to build "a new Texas Military Department base camp to increase and improve border security operations" in Eagle Pass.

The Texas Military Department "acquired 80 acres of land" to build the base, which will house up to 2,300 troops, according to a news release from Abbott's office.

Parson two weeks ago traveled to Shelby Park in Eagle Pass with 13 other Republican governors for a news conference to address "President Joe Biden's reckless open border policies" and a "security briefing" on Texas' Operation Lone Star.

He also signed a January statement with 24 other Republican governors supporting " Texas' constitutional right to self-defense ... from historic levels of illegal immigrants, deadly drugs like fentanyl, and terrorists."

Parson has expressed support for Abbott's approach to immigration and border security, and both Republican governors have blamed border security challenges on the Biden administration.

Amid the Missouri Legislature's annual state budget negotiations for the upcoming fiscal year, Parson zeroed out a $5 million request from the National Guard to boost recruitment efforts. According to the agency's budget request, the guard is authorized to have 11,500 troops, but the actual number of soldiers is about 10,600.

Parson's commitment to deploy more Missouri troops in Texas comes during an election season in which immigration at the southern border has been placed at the center of local, state and national political battles.

Illegal crossings at the southern border reached an all-time high in December, but that figure dropped by 50% in January due to seasonal trends and "enhanced enforcement efforts" by CPB, according to a CPB news release.

U.S. House members last week in a narrow 216-214 vote impeached Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his handling of migration at the southern border. Mayorkas will likely not face trial in the Democrat-controlled U.S Senate, which would be responsible for the trial and any subsequent conviction and ouster.

U.S. House members shot down a bipartisan border security package earlier this month after former President Donald Trump disapproved the proposed deal.

And Abbott has touted his efforts to bus migrants from Texas to Democrat-controlled cities like New York and Chicago.

In Missouri, several state lawmakers seeking higher office have filed legislation to limit illegal immigration in the state. Some Missouri Republican lawmakers in the wake of the Kansas City Chiefs parade shooting on social media erroneously attributed the violence to an illegal immigrant and suggested Biden's border policies played a role in the shooting.

The political rhetoric around the U.S.- Mexico border is reminiscent of the 2016 presidential election when Trump pledged to build a border wall funded by Mexico and the 2020 presidential election when Trump again used tough-on-immigration messaging in his campaign.

Missouri Democratic Party officials sharply criticized Parson's announcement, calling it "shameful."

" Governor Parson's decision to double down his political theater at the southern border instead of urging his Republican colleagues in Congress to support the bipartisan border agreement is not surprising but is deeply shameful," Matthew Patterson, the state party's executive director, said in a statement issued late Tuesday. " Missouri Republicans have demonstrated time after time that they will always choose to play political games over doing their jobs no matter who is put at risk."


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