Governor Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: A Border in Crisis Needs Solutions and Action

A Border in Crisis Needs Solutions and Action
By: Governor Kristi Noem
July 30, 2021 

America is the land of opportunity. We’re a nation where anyone can make anything of themselves if they work hard and play by the rules. But when those rules are abandoned – when we lose respect for our Constitution and the rule of law – that’s when the system breaks. And that’s exactly what is taking place at our Southern border. Rule of law has collapsed, putting our border in crisis and risking our national security.

I recently sent 48 South Dakota National Guard troops – all volunteers – to support Texas in its efforts to secure our Southern border. This past week, I visited those troops and surveyed their observation posts. I got a briefing from them and from Border Patrol. I saw what they’re seeing, and they told me what they need. And I gained a greater understanding of how unsustainable the situation is at the US-Mexico border.

Coyotes are smuggling people into our country. They know that if their group has a child under 7, they will be let into this country, turned over to a non-governmental organization, and relocated to someplace within our nation. They’re smuggling people into our nation – and they’re using these migrants as pawns to distract from the cartel’s aggressive drug smuggling operation. That is fundamentally contrary to everything for which this nation stands.

Here are some alarming numbers from the Border Patrol’s most recent dispatches:

  • More than 20,000 immigrants were stopped in a single week just in the Rio Grande Valley zone where our National Guard is deployed;
  • Fentanyl seizures are up 455% compared to last year; and
  • Meth seizures are up 85%.

And that’s just what Border Patrol is catching; imagine how much more is slipping through.

Those drugs don’t stop at the border. They’re being sent to our communities throughout the country. In South Dakota, the cartels bring these drugs to our cities, towns, and to some of our tribal reservations.

South Dakota has worked diligently to fight the drug epidemic in our state, and as a result, we were one of only two states in America to reduce the number of deaths from drug overdose last year. New Hampshire saw a small decline; South Dakota’s overdose deaths decreased by almost 16 percent. I’m not going to let the tremendous progress we’ve made collapse because the Biden Administration refuses to secure our border.

What’s worse is the bureaucracy of DC politics is stalled while more and more of these migrants die while attempting to cross the border. We can and should do better. Unfortunately, the reports I received this week indicate the politics of DC are likely to make this border crisis worse.

If President Biden won’t step up and do his job, then Republican governors will continue to do what they can to address the border crisis. We’re evaluating options to extend the deployment of the troops already at the border and asking Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to fund those extended engagements. We’ll be sending an additional 125 troops there later this year as part of a 9-12 month federal deployment. And we will continue to evaluate how else we can help in this important effort.

Our nation is one of opportunity. We welcome people to come into our country, but they have to do it legally. We are a nation of laws. If we lose respect for those laws, we lose the foundation of our country. And I refuse to let that happen.