NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Governor Bill Lee visited the U.S. Southern border to meet with Tennessee National Guards troops and receive briefings on the rate of illegal crossings and criminal activities.
“Tennesseans serve on the front lines of the Southern border crisis, and it has rapidly escalated to not just a matter of public safety but a threat to our country’s national security,” said Gov. Lee in a press release. “Americans owe these troops a debt of gratitude for their service, and the federal government owes Americans a plan to restore both our border security and our standing as a global power.”
Tennessee Adjutant General Jeff Holmes, Gov. Lee and First Lady Maria Lee spent time with troops and thank them for their service.
Gen. Holmes and the governor also participated in a series of briefings regarding illegal crossings with origins from 56 countries, drug seizures and other exploitive crimes like human trafficking.
“What I saw at the border is unsustainable for our country and should be number one priority for national security,” said Gov. Lee. “Tennessee will always step up and serve, but we need immediate reinforcements, like a finished border wall, to ensure our men and women in uniform have the tools they need to do their job.”
Since the Presidential election, multiple Republican governors across the country have deployed state law enforcement officials to the US-Mexico border.
Deployments were made in states from South Dakota to Idaho to Florida. According to CNN, they were in response to requests from two other Republican executives -- Arizona's Doug Ducey and Texas' Greg Abbott -- who asked the nation's governors to send law enforcement to the U.S.-Mexico border in a letter sent in early June.
Since his inauguration, President Biden has worked to reverse President Trump's immigration policies.
In January, Biden signed several immigration executive orders which included a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants and aid to Central America - it's a plan that Nashville immigration advocates and officials said they were optimistic about.
Recently, the New York Times reported the Biden administration plans to ease restrictions on undocumented immigrants who are pregnant, postpartum or nursing.
The TN National Guard serves at the Southern border in the following support capacities, according to the governor's office.
- 269th Military Police Company – Routinely augments law enforcement by conducting training and providing a presence along the border
- 913th Engineer Company – Capabilities lend to myriad road building efforts and border wall projects
- 2-151 Aviation Battalion – Provides an aerial platform to assist Customs and Border Protection with a number of their logistical and operational priorities