The Ohio National Guard stands post in downtown Columbus last year. Photo by Marty Schladen.
Gov. Mike DeWine said Tuesday it is in the state’s best interest to send more Ohio National Guard troops and other law enforcement officials to help protect the southern border with Mexico.
The decision reflects Ohio’s broader effort to aid fellow states — or the federal government — when help is requested, the governor said.
DeWine recently announced Ohio will send 185 troops later this year to assist with the “Southwest Border mission.” They will provide “non-law enforcement support” to the U.S. Custom and Border Protection agency.
These troops join the 115 Ohio National Guard members who were deployed to the southern border in 2020 and remain on active duty.
The federal government will be paying for these ONG deployments, a spokesperson for the governor told the Ohio Capital Journal.
The governor separately approved a request from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to send about a dozen Ohio State Highway Patrol officials to help law enforcement there with border surveillance. They will not be making arrests during this two-week assignment set to begin this month.
A spokesperson for the Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed this mission to Texas will be paid for using state funds.
“The Patrol will not know the exact cost until after the detail is complete,” they wrote to the Ohio Capital Journal in an email.
DeWine defended his decision in a Tuesday press conference.
“What happens at the southern border of the United States impacts Ohio,” DeWine said. “I can tell you, from eight years as the attorney general of this state, that the vast majority, almost all the drugs that are coming into the state of Ohio come across the southern border. So we have a real interest in securing the southern border.”
DeWine said his administration makes a decision on each deployment request based on the circumstances.
“When we are requested to send support by another state or by the federal government, it is something that does not occur very often … we have to weigh what detriment it might be to the state of Ohio versus the benefit,” he said.
In the case of the southern border mission, DeWine said it was worth it to approve these requests.
“We were asked to play a small part in (securing the border), and I said yes,” he said. “I think it’s in Ohio’s interest to do that. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
The Ohio National Guard and State Highway Patrol have had a busy few years since DeWine took office in 2019.
Ohio agreed in April to send 100 state troopers to Minnesota when the verdict was announced in the Derek Chauvin murder trial.
DeWine also sent around 1,000 troops to protect the nation’s capital in the aftermath of the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection. Troops stayed to provide security for the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
There was an earlier deployment of Ohio National Guard troops to Washington D.C. to help with protest security following Chauvin’s killing of George Floyd. An Ohio service member was reportedly sent home after it was learned they expressed white supremacist ideology online prior to the 2020 mission.
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