Ag Policy Blog

Republican Governors Rally at U.S.-Mexico Border

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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GOP governors at the U.S.-Mexico border, including Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Greg Abbott of Texas, Krist Noem of South Dakota and Jim Pillen of Nebraska. (Photo courtesy of South Dakota Searchlight and Gov. Noem's office)

Republican governors from the Midwest and Plains states joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday at the U.S.-Mexican border to criticize President Joe Biden on the border and defend Texas' response.

It was the second time in as many years that some of the governors had held a press conference at the border to stress the lack of enforcement and defend the actions taken by Texas to stop the flow of migrants from Mexico and other central American countries.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem joined Abbott with each defending Texas border operations, highlighting their own National Guard efforts at the border and stressing that the Biden administration's failures at the borders were leading to more illegal drugs in their communities.

This report contains material from the Iowa Capital Dispatch, the Nebraska Examiner and the South Dakota Searchlight.

The GOP governors have said Biden's border policies led to an increase in illegal activities and violence along the southern border. Reynolds said Iowa is also seeing the impacts of the "Biden-created catastrophe" along the border through drug-related deaths. Since 2020, Iowa has seen a 500% increase in the amount of fentanyl seized, a 100% increase in meth seized and a 35% increase in drug-related deaths, she said.

"I know that's nothing compared to what you're seeing here, but the bulk of those seizures can be tied directly to Mexico and the cartels," Reynolds said.

Noem said South Dakota was also seeing a rise in drug trafficking and use, especially in tribal areas. She said Biden was ignoring the border and underfunding tribal law enforcement, which puts the people of South Dakota's lives "on the frontlines" of the border crisis.

"Because the cartels are set up in South Dakota too," Noem said. "That's what this country needs to realize, is that when you have a president in the White House that breaks the law, and ignores the law, that has consequences. Not just here in Texas … I deal with it every single day in South Dakota."

Stitt cited the 500% increase in fentanyl overdose deaths in Oklahoma over the last five years as evidence that policy changes are needed at the border.

"You don't have a brain if you don't think we need to secure our border," Stitt said.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, most fentanyl is brought into the country through legal ports of entry by U.S. citizens after being produced in China and Mexico.

Pillen said his takeaway from the border trip is "disbelief" in how the media and Biden administration were portraying Texas' border security efforts. The federal Justice Department will head to court Tuesday in a case against the state of Texas for implementing their own security measures such as a barrier of floating buoys and sharp razor wire along the Rio Grande.

"It's hogwash, pun intended, hogwash," Pillen said. "The buoys are a deterrent. They don't cause a band-aid. And if they do, I say what the heck, stay on your side of the room."

Pillen said critics were also misrepresenting "who's coming" across the border, saying that cartels are trying to kill American children.

Abbott said 14 states have supported Texas in deploying National Guard or law enforcement at the border.

Pillen deployed 61 members of the Nebraska National Guard to Texas in a deployment that could cost up to $2 million.

Reynolds deployed 109 Iowa National Guard troops to Texas in early August. They will stay until Sept. 1. Reynolds also sent members of the Iowa State Patrol to Texas and they will remain until early October. Iowa is using COVID-19 relief funds to pay for the deployment.

Noem said that South Dakota National Guard members will begin a border deployment on Sept. 1. Noem had said earlier the state would use emergency funds to pay for the costs.

Stitt also dispatched 50 members of the Oklahoma National Guard to Texas earlier this month.

Pushing back on the GOP efforts in Texas, the head of the League of United Latin American Citizens said Abbott's border strategy "does nothing" to solve the immigration and humanitarian crisis at the southern border and has instead led to injuries and deaths.

Domingo Garcia, LULAC's national president, said that the buoys -- fitted with concertina wire and saw blades -- are "sadistic instruments" that are not a "defense strategy" but "a basic failure of human dignity."

Iowa Capital Dispatch…

Nebraska Examiner…

South Dakota Searchlight…

Chris Clayton can be reached at

Follow him on Twitter @ChrisClaytonDTN


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