Oklahoma sending 50 National Guard members to Texas-Mexico border, aiding Operation Lone Star
After a weekend farewell ceremony, Oklahoma is sending 50 National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas. Gov. Kevin Stittordered the deployment earlier this summer, following arequest from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Stitt wasjoined by 12 other Republican governors, including Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas and Ron DeSantis of Florida, who are sending their states’ National Guard members and law enforcement to Texas too.
"By deploying our brave National Guard Troops, we're sending a strong message that we remain dedicated to defending our borders and upholding law and order in our nation," Stitt saidin a statement.
While deployed, the 50 Oklahoma National Guard members will assist the Texas National Guard with border control. Duties will include manning security points and alerting local law enforcement to illegal immigration and drug trafficking activity.
LeeAnn Tumblson, the Oklahoma National Guard’s deputy public affairs officer, said this mission is a force multiplier, putting more people and eyes on the border.
Though Oklahoma National Guardsmen will be working at the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso, they will not be directly enforcing immigration or other laws.
“It will be the local law enforcement agencies that are responsible for investigating and then, if necessary, detaining those people if they're involved in illegal activities,” said Tumblson.
Abbott began Operation Lone Star in 2021, addressing increasing numbers of border crossings, which the governor blamed on President Joe Biden’s immigration policies.Unclear metrics muddle understanding of the initiative’s effectiveness.
Oklahoma National Guard members did not receive specialized training for the mission in Texas, but will be familiarized with procedures specific to Operation Lone Star by Texas National Guardsmen.
Oklahoma Democratic lawmakers have said the deployment is a political stunt,KOCO reported. State Rep. Annie Menz of Norman called it “brazen party politics on the taxpayer dime.”
The 13 Republican governorssaid that their deployment of National Guard members to the U.S.-Mexico border was “providing support where Biden failed.”
The 50 Oklahoma National Guard members will work at the border for approximately 30 days.
Stitt authorized for up to 100 National Guardsmen to be deployed to the southern border. The Oklahoma National Guard has a tentative plan to send 50 more members to the border in 2024.
This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.