BISMARCK — Gov. Doug Burgum announced Tuesday, July 6, that North Dakota will send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist federal authorities with a historic surge of migrants seeking asylum or looking to cross into the United States.
About 125 soldiers from the Bismarck-based 957th Engineer Company are expected to deploy to the border early this fall to support the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, according to a statement from the North Dakota National Guard.
Though the announcement comes as several other GOP-led states have recently responded to emergency requests for border support by Texas and Arizona, spokesmen for the North Dakota governor's office and National Guard said the state's deployment comes at the request of the U.S. Department of the Army, which covers the costs of the mission.
“We are deeply grateful for the courageous men and women of the North Dakota National Guard and their readiness to protect our great state and nation when needed,” Burgum, a second-term Republican, said in a statement. “We have monitored the ongoing crisis at the southern border and have responded to the request by sending North Dakota National Guard Soldiers to support the efforts to secure our border."
Burgum is the seventh Republican governor to commit to sending troops or law enforcement to the border in the last few weeks, though the nature of North Dakota's mission differs from that of other states.
The GOP governors of Florida, Arkansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio and South Dakota have each responded to emergency requests by the governors of Texas and Arizona for increased border security. Funding for deployments at the request of individual states typically does not come from the federal government, and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has come under intense scrutiny in the last week for her decision to accept $1 million in private funding from a GOP donor to cover costs for her state's National Guard dispatch.
National Republicans have lately escalated an attack on President Joe Biden's administration for its handling of an ongoing immigration surge at the Mexico border, culminating in a visit by former President Donald Trump to the border alongside Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week.
In May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded a higher number of encounters with migrants than at any other time in more than 20 years, according to The Associated Press.
North Dakota National Guard spokesman Bill Prokopyk said the North Dakota soldiers are awaiting more information on the timing and duties of the deployment. There are currently about 375 soldiers and airmen in the North Dakota National Guard mobilized in the United States and overseas.
Readers can reach reporter Adam Willis, a Report for America corps member, at firstname.lastname@example.org.