Alaska governor says he’d like to send troops south to aid Texas, but cost is a hurdle

Mike Dunleavy
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks to reporters during a news conference Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

Gov. Mike Dunleavy told reporters on Wednesday that he’d like to answer Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s request for National Guard soldiers to support a state-run effort along the Mexico border, but he’s not sure the Alaska Legislature will approve the cost.

“To send the Guard down will cost us about — according to Adjutant General Saxe — about a million dollars a month for 100 folks. We’ll test the waters with the Legislature to see if they’re willing to fund that, and I wouldn’t mind helping Texas with their issue on the border,” Dunleavy said.

The governor’s remarks followed the announcement that the federal National Guard bureau has asked the Alaska National Guard to prepare for the deployment of 20 soldiers and two helicopters to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials along the American border with Mexico.

Since 2021, citing the perceived inadequacy of federal efforts, Texas has conducted Operation Lone Star, a state-run effort to fortify the international border and prevent crossings between the usual American ports of entry.

Texan efforts have at times conflicted with federal border-protection efforts, most notably with Texas’ recent decision to install razor wire along portions of the border. The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that Texas cannot stop federal officials from removing that wire and cannot interfere with federal officials during the course of their duties. 

Dunleavy said on Wednesday that he wants to see more immigration, particularly to Alaska.

“I think we need more people. I think we need more immigrants. And I’ve always said, build a strong wall with many doors, many ways to get into this country,” he said.

Many Republican politicians have criticized the federal approach to the border, and former President Donald Trump said “willing states” should “deploy their guards to Texas.”

With federal soldiers potentially at odds with soldiers deployed from individual states, some commentators have raised the possibility of an armed conflict. Dunleavy said those concerns are overblown.

“There’s some nonsense that by doing that, you’re setting up a new Confederate army against the Union or that you’re setting up a flashpoint between Americans. That’s not the case, and that’s not something I would want. And I know Gov. Abbott. That’s not what he wants,” Dunleavy said.

Dunleavy and Attorney General Treg Taylor have issued statements in support of Texas’ position, and this week, Taylor and Adjutant General Torrence Saxe have conducted a series of closed-door briefings with legislators about planned and possible National Guard deployments to the border.

If Alaska National Guard soldiers were to deploy at Texas’ request, it would be under Dunleavy’s authority and the state would pay the bill, the governor said.

Alaska Beacon is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Alaska Beacon maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Andrew Kitchenman for questions: Follow Alaska Beacon on Facebook and X.

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