From NewsChannel 9: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Thursday that he has authorized the deployment of 100 Tennessee National Guard troops to
From NewsChannel 9: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Thursday that he has authorized the deployment of 100 Tennessee National Guard troops to the U.S. southern border, the second time he’s done so while in office.
“America continues to face an unprecedented border crisis that threatens our nation’s security and the safety of Tennesseans,” Governor Lee said. “The federal government owes Americans a plan to secure our country, and in the meantime, states continue to answer this important call to service. I am again authorizing the Tennessee National Guard to help secure the Southern border, and I commend these troops for providing critical support.”
Lee’s release says guard members will deploy by the end of this month to provide support in 3 ways:
- Patrolling and providing additional security presence along the border
- Assisting road and route clearance, barrier placement and debris removal
- Staffing outpost operations
Governor Lee made a similar move in December 2021, announcing he was sending 50 guard members to the border, saying they were needed there ‘to address drug trafficking at the source.
But that move drew criticism for the governor. The Southern Christian Coalition called the visit a way to gain political points while more pressing issues are happening on Tennessee soil.
Rev. Dr. Kevin Riggs of Franklin Community Church said
Tennessee is not a border state, and he is using this visit to gain political points instead of helping struggling Tennesseans. Over 80,000 Tennesseans are currently unemployed, and their federal unemployment payments were cut off by Governor Lee just last week. Many of these people are suffering, unable to pay their bills or buy groceries, causing a true crisis at home,” in a statement.
Our sister station WZTV asked the governor what he had to say in response to that. The governor replied sending the troops to the border was ‘a top priority from my perspective.’
Lee later visited those troops, who came home later the next year.
The ability of U.S. Border Patrol to hold migrants has been a key concern as more migrants came to the border in the days leading up to the end of immigration restrictions linked to the pandemic, referred to as Title 42, earlier this month.
Title 42 allowed U.S. officials to quickly expel migrants without letting them seek asylum, but it also carried no consequences for those who entered the country and were expelled. In the leadup to the end of Title 42, the U.S. introduced tough enforcement measures to discourage people from just arriving at the border, encouraging them instead to use one of the pathways the U.S. has created to facilitate migration.
The Biden administration is facing a lawsuit aimed at curtailing its ability to release migrants from custody even when facilities are over capacity.
Blas Nunez-Neto, assistant secretary for border and immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security, said border officials had been encountering a little less than 5,000 people a day since Title 42 expired.