Noem looking to further bolster Texas security efforts at US-Mexico border

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said Wednesday that her administration is considering boosting its support for Texas' efforts to deter immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border, such as sending razor wire and security personnel.

The second-term Republican governor blasted conditions at the border in a speech to a joint session of the Legislature, a gathering she requested Monday after visiting the border last week. Noem, once seen as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has made the border situation a focus during her tenure.

“The United States of America is in a time of invasion,” Noem said. “The invasion is coming over our southern border. The 50 states have a common enemy, and that enemy is the Mexican drug cartels. They are waging war against our nation, and these cartels are perpetuating violence in each of our states, even right here in South Dakota.”

Border security has taken center stage in numerous states and in Congress, where Republicans are conditioning aid to Ukraine on a border security deal, and pushing to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Even President Joe Biden has said that he would shut down the border if given the emergency authority to do so, as part of a deal.

Noem cited illegal drugs, including fentanyl, and violent crime affecting communities and tribal reservations. She said she plans to “very publicly” support the Oglala Sioux Tribe in its lawsuit filed last week against the federal government, seeking more law enforcement support.

In November, Tribal President Frank Star Comes Out declared a state of emergency on the Pine Ridge Reservation due to increasing crime. A federal judge ruled last year that the federal government has a treaty duty for law enforcement support on the reservation, but he declined to rule on the funding level the tribe sought.

The governor also said South Dakota is willing to send razor wire to Texas. Her administration is “exploring various legal options on how we can support Texas and force (the) federal government to do their job," she said, and also is considering options to provide personnel.

Democratic state Sen. Shawn Bordeaux said Noem “should focus on South Dakota."

He added, “I think it's a shame that she's using the Mexican border for her own political purposes to try to advance her own agenda and align it with former President Trump, and she's doing it at the expense of the tribes."

He said Noem has previously paid little attention to area tribes during his 10 years as a state lawmaker and two years as a Rosebud Sioux tribal councilman.

“I'm just a little perturbed that we haven't heard nothing until now and all of a sudden it's a big thing in the middle of our session to interrupt us with whatever this ploy is to get a little more attention, in my view,” Bordeaux said.

Republican House Majority Leader Will Mortenson said Noem “painted a pretty vivid picture of the situation on the border and made a compelling case, need for action at the border." Lawmakers will look for specific proposals she might put forth during the ongoing session, he said.

Noem has deployed South Dakota National Guard troops three times to the border, including last year, and she has visited several times, including on Friday. Other Republican governors have deployed troops and visited the border too.

In 2021, Noem drew criticism for accepting a $1 million donation offered by a wealthy Republican donor to help cover the cost of a two-month deployment of 48 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas.