Following the lead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced that he has directed the Virginia National Guard to send 100 troops to Texas to assist with what Youngkin calls an “ongoing border crisis.”
Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced this week that he’s deploying Virginia National Guard troops to Texas’ southern border in response to a request from Texas’ Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.
“Virginia will do its part to assist the State of Texas’ efforts with the coordinated deployment of Virginia National Guard soldiers to assist in key aspects of their mission,” Youngkin said in a press release.
Youngkin is sending 100 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border purportedly “due to continued instability.” National Guard members will be on the lookout for “the increase in supply of illegal drugs and human trafficking.”
The 100 troops will be joined by 21 support personnel in a 30-day deployment, even though Youngkin’s order is in effect from July through September. It’s unclear which Guard unit will be called up and exactly when it will be sent to Texas.
According to Youngkin administration officials, the troop deployment is expected to cost taxpayers around $3.1 million.
Virginia Democrats swiftly condemned Youngkin’s move to send the state’s National Guard halfway across the country.
“As a veteran, I’m really disturbed that he would use National Guardsmen for political theater to further his presidential ambitions,” House Minority Leader Don L. Scott Jr. said. “I’m disturbed that he would spend $3.1 million to send National Guardsmen from Virginia down without a specific and prescribed mission.”
State Sen. Scott Surovell accused Youngkin of wasting taxpayer money and of using state resources for his own political benefit.
“This is Youngkin’s latest entry in the Republican presidential beauty pageant,” he said. “We’ll definitely be looking into the legality of this.”
Youngkin has been rumored to have 2024 presidential aspirations, but is expected to wait until after November’s state legislative elections to make an announcement.
Republicans applauded the governor’s move, with Virginia House Speaker Todd Gilbert saying that he commends and supports the National Guard deployment “in the strongest possible terms.”
The last time that a Virginia governor deployed National Guard troops was on Jan. 6, 2021, to help secure the Capitol in Washington, D.C. during a violent insurrection led by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
Troops from Virginia’s National Guard have not been at the southern border since 2018, when then-Gov. Ralph Northam pulled troops from the region in response to a controversial Trump administration policy that separated families at the border.