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Normalizing Deadly Racist Conspiracy, Republican Governors Continue Deploying Troops to Texas

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Last week, in an article titled “Trump’s ‘Knock on the Door’: The former president and his aides are formulating plans to deport millions of migrants,” the Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein wrote about Donald Trump’s extremist immigration plans for his second term. This passage jumped out: “Stephen Miller, Trump’s top immigration adviser, has publicly declared that they would pursue such an enormous effort partly by creating a private red-state army under the president’s command. Miller says a reelected Trump intends to requisition National Guard troops from sympathetic Republican-controlled states and then deploy them into Democratic-run states whose governors refuse to cooperate with their deportation drive.”

They mean it. And Republican state governors are already showing their willingness to use their state’s National Guard Troops to push their extreme and dangerous immigration agenda.

In recent days, at least three Republican governors have said that they will deploy or are seeking to deploy their state’s National Guard troops to Texas to take part in Governor Greg Abbott’s wasteful political stunt at the border. They’re the latest Republicans to offer dangerous and wasteful political stunts instead of solutions, following earlier GOP deployments from states including Florida, Idaho, Iowa, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

Last week, Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry said he would be working with the legislature to send up to 150 troops to Texas, citing “open borders” disinformation. Not only is this ubiquitous talking point from Republicans false, it’s also helped spur migration to the U.S. Utah Governor Spencer Cox, meanwhile, announced plans to deploy five troops and five state police at an estimated $150,000 to state taxpayers. Then, on Friday, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced the deployment of 50 troops, citing a “recent direct request” from Abbott. Missouri has sent 250 troops, but Gov. Mike Parson has indicated he wants to increase that.

While Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy has said he’s also interested in joining the political stunt, “he’s not sure the Alaska Legislature will approve the cost,” Anchorage Daily News reported last week. “To send the Guard down will cost us about — according to Adjutant General [Torrance] Saxe — about a million dollars a month for 100 folks,” Dunleavy said. 

Concerns about forcing wasteful spending onto the taxpayers have been in the minority. Last year, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin announced a $3.1 million deployment of 100 National Guard soldiers to Texas. Youngkin claimed that the deployment would combat the fentanyl crisis “devastating Virginia families and communities.” But records spanning several weeks revealed that Youngkin’s taxpayer-funded, multi-million dollar mission uncovered exactly zero amounts of fentanyl

While it’s true that fentanyl is a serious and urgent issue in Virginia and communities across the nation, Youngkin’s deployment – along with deployments by other GOP governors around the country – has clearly done nothing to address this crisis. Instead, these deployments have served as a backdrop for Republicans seeking to keep immigration and the border an issue they can demagogue, rather than an issue to be addressed.

In Kansas, Governor Laura Kelly, a Democrat, has urged federal lawmakers concerned about the border to do something and pass long-overdue legislation. “It’s clear our immigration system is broken, hurting the safety of our communities, our agriculture industry and our overall economy,” a spokesperson said. But rather than joining that call, the GOP-led statehouse adopted a resolution urging Governor Kelly to offer “support and solidarity” to Abbott,” Kansas Reflector reports

The resolution dangerously cites the kind of white nationalist “invasion” rhetoric that has already resulted in real-world consequences. Possible violence was recently averted after the FBI arrested a Tennessee man who, angered over an “invasion,” sought to join the border convoy to act as a sniper. Paul Faye also sought to bring explosives to the convoy and “first came on law enforcement radar after the arrest of Brian Perry, another Tennessee man who was indicted last Spring in a plot to murder immigrants at the border,” Court Watch reported. In Pennsylvania, Justin Mohn, a far-right conspiracy theorist who angrily ranted about an alleged “invasion,” horrifically decapitated his father in their home, officials said

But instead of taking a step back from promoting incendiary rhetoric, Abbott and GOP governors who take part in his political stunt are only encouraging more of the violent and threatening incidents we’ve been documenting. Indicted former President Donald Trump has supported this call

“Every time an elected official publicly embraces the rhetoric of the replacement and invasion conspiracy, they are contributing to a climate where someone with hate in their heart and a gun in their hand believes they should take matters into their own hands,” America’s Voice Political Director Zachary Mueller said in a recent report from The Texas Tribune.

Two dozen GOP governors representing half the states in the union have also added further fuel to the nativist fire by releasing a joint statement endorsing Abbott’s fight against the federal government. Abbott has cited a debunked “invasion” legal theory in court litigation over access to a portion of the southern border. Even after the Supreme Court ultimately sided with the Biden administration, Abbott continued the escalation, stating “Texas’ constitutional right to self-defense,” that he called “the supreme law of the land,” while again claiming that the state is facing an “invasion,” America’s Voice noted.

“Governor Abbott isn’t just harmlessly playing constitutional cowboy; his vapid legal theory is a direct and immediate threat to public safety and our democracy,” said America’s Voice Executive Director Vanessa Cárdenas. “The official position of the State of Texas is to rely on a white nationalist conspiracy theory to stoke fear, ramp up vigilantism, and attempt to nullify federal law. The normalization of this conspiracy provides further fuel to the election deniers. Unfortunately, we know all too well where this escalating rhetoric and incitement can lead, as does Gov. Greg Abbott.”