Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin is joining the list of Republican governors sending soldiers or other state law enforcement officers to the U.S. border with Mexico.
Youngkin announced May 31 that in response to a request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott he had signed an executive order directing the deployment of 100 Virginia National Guard soldiers and 21 support personnel.
“The ongoing border crisis facing our nation has turned every state into a border state,” Youngkin said in a statement. “As leadership solutions at the federal level fall short, states are answering the call to secure our southern border, reduce the flow of fentanyl, combat human trafficking and address the humanitarian crisis.”
Youngkin’s order said the soldiers will answer to a military commander during the 30-day deployment, not any local civilian authorities, and “will be equipped with weapons, ammunition, body armor, protective masks, and night vision and other support devices.”
The governor’s office said Texas made a request in mid-May for assistance with “continued instability along the U.S. border with Mexico, including the increase in supply of illegal drugs and human trafficking.” Texas’ request came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, of which Virginia is a founding member, the news release said.
Youngkin’s press team did not immediately respond to a question about the expected cost of the mission or the source of funding.
Youngkin, a former private equity executive who is barred under Virginia law from seeking a second consecutive term, is frequently mentioned as a possible 2024 presidential contender. He said earlier this month that he had no plans to launch such a bid this year.
Republican governors including Florida’s Ron DeSantis, a presidential candidate, have recently announced plans to deploy Guard troops. Other GOP governors have made similar deployments in recent years.
President Joe Biden announced in early May plans to send 1,500 active-duty troops to the border, in addition to the 2,500 National Guard members already there. Those military personnel were tasked with data entry, warehouse support and other administrative duties so that U.S. Customs and Border Protection can focus on fieldwork, the White House said.
While some other Virginia Republicans praised Youngkin’s decision, the state’s Democrats characterized the move as absurd or disingenuous.
“Youngkin for President has officially jumped the shark — our VA National Guard troops shouldn’t be used to further presidential ambitions much less fight a MAGA culture war in Texas of all places — Never thought I would see my state so compromised,” tweeted state Sen. Scott Surovell.
-SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press