This is how it’s done: Missouri Gov. Mike Parson sends more than 200 people to help Texas, signs bill at the border

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Missouri – Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed a bill into law on Wednesday to finance the deployment of roughly 200 Missouri National Guard members and 22 State Highway Patrol officers to the Texas-Mexico border.

“I think the important takeaway for folks back home in Missouri is to realize the battle that we’re fighting down here at the border is keeping it from happening in our own borders, in our own state,” Parson said at a press conference near Eagle Pass, Texas.

Meanwhile, State Representative Peter Merideth, a Democrat from St. Louis, criticized the measure.

“This is a campaign stunt for a lot of people about the national fight happening over the border,” Merideth said. “What I think is frustrating is, while it’s just politics, it has real consequences.”

The $2.2 million supplemental budget bill gained widespread bipartisan backing in Jefferson City earlier this spring, even as some Democrats opposed Governor Mike Parson’s move to deploy Missouri troops and officers. Initially, Parson, a Republican, issued an executive order in February, positioning Missouri as the 14th state to join Operation Lone Star. This initiative, led by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, aims to curb the illegal entry of migrants and illicit drugs. Abbott and the federal government have clashed over the program’s legality.

Read also: Governor Mike Parson set to travel internationally to promote Missouri as a business location

Missouri’s troops and officers arrived at the Texas-Mexico border in early March to bolster local law enforcement, as stated by Parson and Gen. Levon Cumpton, the Missouri National Guard’s chief. The first wave of state troopers returned at the end of March, while the second group stayed until mid-April. Although the initial deployment was planned for 90 days, Parson hasn’t ruled out an extension and emphasized that future plans will be reassessed when the executive order expires in mid-June.

Supporting the Texas Army National Guard, Missouri troops have identified and turned back over 700 undocumented migrants, according to the governor’s office. Parson, along with GOP leaders and lawmakers, cites President Joe Biden’s policies as the driving force behind sending troops to the border, pointing to statistics showing record-high migrant encounters under Biden. Recent polls indicate that the southern border has become a significant issue for voters, and Republicans have made it a key talking point heading into the 2024 elections.

“The one thing I want to share with all Missourians: We are making a difference — without a doubt,” Parson said.

But some Democrats in Jefferson City said the governor’s decision to send aid to Texas does not help Missouri.

Read also: Justice served: Missouri SNAP program under fire for lengthy wait times

“We’re always talking about making sure we take care of Missourians,” Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, said in March when the bill was being considered. “We are not doing that with this bill. We are trying to take care of somebody else’s problem.”

Many from the opposition party voted for the bill, recognizing that Governor Parson had already decided to send troops and didn’t require legislative consent. The bill ensures state funding would be available in case of an emergency, Parson explained. However, State Representative Peter Merideth argued this was unnecessary, emphasizing that lawmakers could convene a special session to pass emergency legislation swiftly, just as they did following the Joplin tornado in 2011.

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