Virginia sending National Guard troops to southern U.S. border

Governor Youngkin is ordering one hundred members of the Virginia National Guard to the southern border.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 1:58 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Wednesday that Virginia will deploy National Guard troops to help with the ongoing crisis at the U.S. Southern border.

On Wednesday, Youngkin signed Executive Directive Four after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott requested emergency assistance from states with security and enforcement.

Gov. Youngkin says it is necessary to stop the flow of fentanyl and human traffickers from coming into the U.S. and Virginia.

Democrats aren’t buying it. They say this move is all about bolstering a potential presidential run.

“I am heartbroken by mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers and kids who have seen their relatives die from fentanyl overdoses. I’m heartbroken to see that human trafficking is happening in Virginia,” Gov. Youngkin said.

According to a press release from Youngkin’s office, Virginia will deploy 100 National Guard troops and 21 supporting personnel to address the increase in the supply of illegal drugs and human trafficking.

This comes shortly after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced he is sending more than a thousand law enforcement and national guard members to the border.

“Texas has taken on the lion’s share of the responsibility in order to secure the border and I believe we have a role to play, that’s why I very carefully made this decision in order to support the work they’ve done in Texas because Virginians have a lot of risk here too,” Gov. Youngkin said.

Virginia democrats voiced their disappointment and outrage.

“Youngkin is spending our family’s taxpayer dollars to fund a political stunt 2,000 miles away from the Commonwealth...Youngkin is continuing to ignore the basic needs of Virginians to bolster his standing with the MAGA base,” said Susan Swecker, Chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia. “To the governor, I’ll say this: don’t use my tax dollars to fund your presidential campaign.”

The governor says the issues at the border directly impact Virginians.

Virginia State Police have seized over 42 pounds of illegal fentanyl since last year.

On average, five Virginians die per day from fentanyl, according to Youngkin’s release.

“The illegal flow of drugs across the southern border, and the illegal flow of human traffickers across the southern border has made every single state a border state,” Youngkin said.

Some have questioned if the governor has the proper authority to do this.

Gov. Youngkin’s justification comes from President Biden’s executive order in late April, which gives states the power to use armed forces to address international drug trafficking.

In NBC12′s interview with Gov. Youngkin, he did not directly address the migrant crisis.

Full statement from Youngkin:

The ongoing border crisis facing our nation has turned every state into a border state. 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. Following a briefing from Governor Abbott last week, Virginia is joining other states to deliver on his request for additional assistance. Given the intensive resource demands on Texas, the dangers posed by the fentanyl crisis, and impact of the border crisis on criminal activity to the Commonwealth, Virginia will do its part to assist the State of Texas’ efforts with the coordinated deployment of Virginia National Guard soldiers to assist in key aspects of their mission.”

The Governor’s office says this deployment will cost $3.1 million.

Troops are expected to deploy in July for 30 days but the exact date hasn’t been finalized.