Republican governors have made a show of deploying National Guard troops to the southern border to block the Biden administration from removing razor wire that Texas has laid out to repel and harm migrants — in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling.
On Sunday, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) suggested if President Joe Biden tries to federalize Texas National Guard forces — as some Democrats have urged — it could lead to a civil war.
“If he’s willing to do that and take away my authority as governor as commander-in-chief of those National Guard, boy, we do have a war on our hands,” said Noem.
Under Gov. Greg Abbott (R), the Texas National Guard and state law enforcement officials have blocked federal Border Patrol agents from accessing the border area to remove the razor wire, which federal agents say has impeded their operations. Texas has been blocking access to a border area near where a woman and two children reportedly drowned in the Rio Grande.
The Supreme Court has sided with the federal government, ruling Jan. 22 that federal agents can remove the razor wire.
Republican politicians have rushed to back Abbott and Texas in the escalating standoff.
Over a dozen states have sent National Guard troops to the southern border since 2021. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, 25 Republican governors (all but Vermont’s Phil Scott) signed a letter supporting Abbott “utilizing every tool and strategy, including razor wire fences, to secure the border.”
Abbott’s argument for defying the federal government relies on characterizing migration at the southern border as an “invasion” that requires states to exercise their right to self-defense.
Democrats including Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) have called on President Biden to federalize National Guard units. So far, Biden has avoided addressing the possibility.
Noem said Sunday that Democrats have “been encouraging President Biden to come after states’ rights.”
The U.S. government has federalized state National Guard units before — like when Arkansas tried to use its National Guard in 1957 to block school integration after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, leading Republican President Dwight Eisenhower to step in to protect the “Little Rock Nine.”
Abbott said last month that federalizing the National Guard would be “boneheaded” but promised Texas was “prepared in the event that that unlikely event does occur.”
Noem’s statements came on Maria Bartiromo’s Fox News show, “Sunday Morning Futures.” She said South Dakota is “deploying all of our resources that we have to support Texas.” Last week, Noem said she had called for a special legislative session because she is considering sending South Dakota’s National Guard troops to the Texas border again.
Noem is reportedly hoping to be chosen as former President Donald Trump’s 2024 running mate, but she claimed she hasn’t discussed it with him.
“We talk all the time, but we’ve never had that conversation,” Noem said Sunday.
Trump has made the southern border a central issue in his presidential campaign, going so far as to reportedly sabotage ongoing congressional negotiations over border legislation to keep the issue alive as an attack against Biden.
Noem said if Biden chose to assert control over National Guard troops to resolve the dispute with Abbott, it would be “the first time in American history that we would have a president that would pay soldiers to stand down, to actually not protect America.”
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