SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem announced Friday that National Guard troops that she deployed to the U.S. border with Mexico will return later this month.
The Republican governor deployed 48 National Guard troops to Texas in July. The deployment came in response to a request from Texas and Arizona to send law enforcement officers under an agreement between states to assist during emergencies. Noem said the soldiers encountered more than 6,000 people crossing the border in the month and a half they were stationed there.
“Unfortunately, because of the Biden Administration’s failed border policies, the system has become one of facilitating the crossing of illegal immigrants into our country,” she said in a statement.
Overall, U.S. authorities stopped migrants about 210,000 times at the border in July, up from 188,829 in June and the highest in more than 20 years. But the numbers aren’t directly comparable because many crossed repeatedly under a pandemic-related ban that expelled people from the country immediately without giving them a chance to seek asylum but carried no legal consequences.
A federal judge ruled Thursday that the U.S. government’s practice of denying migrants a chance to apply for asylum on the Mexican border until space opens up to process claims is unconstitutional.
After a visit to the border in July, Noem had said she would consider keeping the troops in Texas beyond a two-month deployment but wanted Texas to cover some of that cost. Noem said Friday that Texas no longer needed South Dakota’s help and that it would increase “its financial commitment and manpower from within the state.”
Noem was heavily criticized for accepting a $1 million donation from a private foundation to fund the National Guard's deployment. Experts said it set a troubling precedent in which a wealthy patron can effectively commandeer U.S. military might to address private political motivations.
But with the support of the top general of the South Dakota National Guard, Noem did not back down.
However, the House Armed Services Committee this week moved to block states from accepting private funds to pay for cross-state National Guard deployments. The proposed condition was added to the annual National Defense Authorization Act.
South Dakota will send 125 National Guard troops to the southern border next month as part of a federal deployment.