By: KOMLAVI ADISSEM, Columbia Missourian
JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday (Feb. 20) evening that he is deploying approximately 200 Missouri National Guard members and up to 22 Highway Patrol troopers to Texas to assist in protecting the border.
The governor said 11 Highway Patrol troopers will be “on the ground” starting March 1. He added that all of the troopers volunteered to go to Texas.

Parson said that the first deployment of National Guard members would be active starting March 10. He added that this mission will be active for 90 days but could be extended.

“We will continuously work with Texas to evaluate needed support moving forward,” he said during his announcement.
However, these are not the first Missouri National Guard members to be deployed to the border. Two companies of roughly 250 members have previously been deployed to assist federal Customs and Border Protection agents.

The personnel being sent in March will be assisting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, which aims to prevent illegal crossing and the smuggling of drugs across the border using state officers and troops.

“Missouri personnel will rotate in and out as needed with a primary mission to help the state of Texas in construction of barriers to entry and supporting security patrols as needed,” Parson said.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, the executive order authorizing this mission will last until June 13. The troops will be rotating on a basis of roughly 30 days.

The governor said he’s activating the Emergency Response Fund to pay for the mission and will work with legislators to “backfill these funds with a supplemental budget request” of $2.3 million.

The move comes after a trip where Parson and 12 other Republican governors toured border sites in Texas with Abbott.
Other states that have pledged National Guard personnel to the border in Texas include Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Utah.

Missouri Democrats responded in a statement criticizing Parson for the decision.

“Gov. Parson’s decision to double down his political theater at the southern border instead of urging his Republican colleagues in Congress to support the bipartisan border agreement is not surprising but is deeply shameful,” Matthew Patterson, the Missouri Democratic Party executive director, said in the statement. “Missouri Republicans have demonstrated time after time that they will always choose to play political games over doing their jobs no matter who is put at risk.”

Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, said that she supports the governor’s actions and is not dissuaded by the $2.3 million price tag.

“It’s well worth every penny,” she said in an interview. “And so, whatever it takes to defend the Missouri borders and the United States borders, we must defend ourselves because the federal government is not doing their job.”

Parson echoed this sentiment of protecting Missourians during his speech.

“The fentanyl crisis is here in our state,” Parson said. “Missourians are dying. Families are being ripped apart. Communities are being destroyed. And children, Missouri children, are falling victim.

“We would much rather do what we can to fight this fight on the southern border than let it take root in our own backyard,” he said.

Harshawn Ratanpal contributed reporting for this story.

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