Private Donation Will Send 50 South Dakota National Guard Troops to U.S.-Mexico Border

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said Tuesday that she will send up to 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Associated Press reported.

The troops' trip to the border, which could last 30 to 60 days, will be funded by a private donation, Noem said.

The U.S. border with Mexico has seen a high volume of migrants recently, with many turning themselves in to U.S. Border Patrol officers as they look for legal asylum. Despite a sharp decrease in the number of parentless families and children crossing into the U.S. since March and April, the number of single adults at the border has stayed high.

Noem is one of a growing number of Republican governors who have pledged to send additional law enforcement to the border. Democratic state Senator Reynold Nesiba said the governor's choice to use a private donor was evidence that border security wasn't a "real priority" for South Dakota, and he wasn't sure if the move was legal.

"This could set a dangerous precedent to allow anonymous political donors to call the governor and dispatch the Guard whenever they want," he said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

SD Gov.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced Tuesday that she will join a growing list of Republican governors sending law enforcement officers to the U.S. border with Mexico. Above, Noem speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, on February 27, 2021. John Raoux/AP Photo

Texas Governor Greg Abbott this month announced plans to build more barriers along the border.

Abbott's new push has been criticized as political theater, but he has defended the plan, saying the number of border crossers remains high. The governor said he will use $250 million in state money and crowdsourced financing for the barriers, although the timeline and cost for the push are unclear. It also faces potential court challenges from the federal government.

Noem, who is seen as a potential presidential contender, drew a distinction between her decision to send the National Guard and other governors who are sending state police officers.

"The border is a national security crisis that requires the kind of sustained response only the National Guard can provide," she said in a statement. "We should not be making our own communities less safe by sending our police or Highway Patrol to fix a long-term problem President Biden's Administration seems unable or unwilling to solve."

The governor's office did not respond when asked for the identity of the private donor paying for the National Guard deployment.

National Guard at Mexico Border
A member of the National Guard helps a child after she crossed the Rio Grande, with her family, into the U.S. on June 19, 2021, in Roma, Texas. A surge of mostly Central American immigrants crossing into the United States has challenged U.S. immigration agencies along the U.S.-Mexico border. Brandon Bell/Getty Images