Holcomb deploys Indiana National Guard to Texas border

By: - February 9, 2024 10:37 am

Gov. Eric Holcomb, in blue, visits the U.S. Mexico border in Texas on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024. (Courtesy official Flickr)

Under pressure from fellow Republicans, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Friday announced he would deploy 50 Indiana National Guard soldiers to Texas’ border with Mexico, “effective immediately.”

He previously joined a dozen other governors at the border for a news conference, during which Texas Gov. Greg Abbott promised to expand his border strategy.

“Federal negligence enforcing immigration law and the failure to secure our country’s border jeopardizes national and economic security, affecting every state, including Indiana,” Holcomb said in a news release.

“We’ve worked too hard in Indiana attacking the drug epidemic for more Hoosier lives to be put at risk by a constant supply of killer drugs spilled over an open U.S. border,” he added. “The only way to resolve this is to stop the historically high flow of illegal immigrants crossing the border.”

Abbott and a growing number of Republican governors say President Joe Biden’s administration isn’t doing enough to stem the flow of unauthorized migrants. Texas and the federal government are clashing over a recent U.S. Supreme Court order on razor wire, access to a park along the border and more.

States like Arkansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Virginia previously or currently had their own guard soldiers deployed in Texas, according to a recent Newsweek article.

Holcomb noted he was sending 50 soldiers after a “recent direct request” from Abbott.

The soldiers are mobilizing now, he said, and will have a week of training at Camp Atterbury on the “operations of the mission.” They’re expected to arrive in Texas in mid-March and will deploy for 10 months.

Holcomb added that he’s had about 300 soldiers collectively deployed to Texas multiple times during his time in office for “various federal missions.”

Indiana Capital Chronicle requested projected costs of the mission, from salary of the guardsmen to housing and food costs. But Major V. Gino Georgetti, director of Strategic Communications/Public Affairs of the Indiana National Guard, didn’t answer the question.

“The Indiana National Guard is uniquely trained, equipped and capable of mobilizing whenever and wherever called upon. As directed by the Governor, Hoosier Guardsmen are preparing immediately to mobilize to support the Texas National Guard on their border mission,” he said. “The state has sufficient funds to support the mobilization. Additional details are not available at this time.”

The decision came after pressure from other Republicans, including a “demand” from gubernatorial candidate Curtis Hill, a former state attorney general. Holcomb is term-limited and is not in the race.

Some lauded the move on Friday.

“I fully support Governor Holcomb’s decision to send members of our state’s committed and hardworking National Guard to support Texas and their efforts to stop the wave of illegal immigration and drugs into their state and ultimately to the rest of our country,” Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston said in a statement. “The men and women in our guard are always ready to answer the call of duty, and I’m proud that Indiana is among the states to stand up against the Biden Administration’s dangerous and open border policies.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray similarly said he was “supportive” of the move, calling out a “profound lack of leadership” within the federal government and asserting gratefulness to guard soldiers.

But Democrats critiqued the decision, asking the governor to focus on problems closer to home.

“Our brave men and women of the Indiana National Guard did not volunteer their service to take part in political stunts,” House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta said. “I would like to see Gov. Holcomb focus on the issues immediately within his control, like standing up for our most vulnerable Hoosier families by fixing FSSA’s $1 billion Medicaid shortfall. Hoosiers need their problems solved – not more political pandering.”

GiaQuinta also noted that congressional Republicans killed a bipartisan border security bill Wednesday.

Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor also pushed that argument.

“Legitimizing this politically driven farce is a waste of time and resources, especially when we know Republicans in DC killed their OWN bill to support a solution at the southern border,” he said. “Now, because of the irresponsible callousness of Washington DC Republicans, Indiana National Guard members will be separated from their families and sent to deal with an issue that Republicans are intentionally allowing to go unaddressed.”

Update: This story has been updated with statements from legislative leaders Phil GiaQuinta and Greg Taylor.

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Leslie Bonilla Muñiz
Leslie Bonilla Muñiz

Leslie covers state government for the Indiana Capital Chronicle with emphases on elections, infrastructure and transportation. She previously covered city-county government for the Indianapolis Business Journal. She has also reported on local, national and international news for the Chicago Tribune, Voice of America and more. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from Northwestern University.

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