On Feb. 26, individuals representing the Utah Highway Patrol and Utah National Guard will deploy to Texas to help secure the southern border in the embattled town of Eagle Pass. Gov. Spencer Cox announced the temporary deployment on Feb. 9 due to a request for support under Emergency Management Assistance Compact (Image courtesy of Facebook).
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah has weighed in on the side of Texas in its ongoing struggle with the Biden administration over border security and Utah Democrats are characteristically up in arms.
“Open borders threaten our national security,” Gov. Spencer Cox said Feb. 9, announcing his plans to deploy members of Utah’s law enforcement community and the National Guard to Texas.
“If the president and Congress won’t solve the influx of people and drugs (over the southern border), states have to step up.”
“This is just the latest in a long line of recent actions by Spencer Cox that prove he is more interested in playing political games than getting important things done for the state of Utah,” countered Utah Democratic Party chair Diane Lewis in a prepared statement.
The deployment of Utah personnel, slated for Feb. 26, came after Texas requested assistance under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC).
EMAC is a national interstate mutual aid agreement that enables states to share resources during times of disaster. Ratified by Congress in the late 1990’s, EMAC is administered by the National Emergency Management Association in Lexington, KY.
“Right now,” Cox added, “Texas needs our help.”
The governor’s staff explained that five soldiers from the Utah National Guard’s engineer battalion will be deployed to Texas on Feb. 26 for 14 days to help maintain military equipment there.
That same day, five UHP troopers from the state’s Criminal Interdiction Team will deploy for 30 days in Texas. That unit specializes in drug investigations.
Lewis still condemns the Utah deployment, despite its small size.
“If Cox and his Republican friends are so concerned about the border,” she said, “they should be supporting the bipartisan proposal negotiated by President (Joe) Biden and Senate Republicans.”
That $118 billion proposal – negotiated by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and supported by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) – went down in flames earlier this week in the Senate.
In the final vote, that bill was opposed by most Senate Republicans, led by none other than Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).
The proposal would have unlocked tens of billion of dollars in foreign aid for the Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, a step that many Republican supported.
But Lee and others objected to the provisions of an alleged overhaul of U.S. immigration policy at the southern border, which they said would codify many of the current abuses of the Biden administration’s border policies.
That would have been an “unmitigated disaster,” according to Lee.
Utah Highway Patrol officials estimate that the month-long deployment of their personnel will cost nearly $100,000, while the shorter deployment of Utah National Guard personnel will cost about half that.
Funding for those deployments will come emergency funds controlled by the Governor’s Office.
Cox has said that the current flood of illegal aliens over the southern border – which includes many military age drifters from China and the Middle East – constitutes an invasion that makes every state “a border state.”
“No matter how hard he tries to justify his grandstanding through fear-mongering,” Lewis countered, “the fact is that we have far more pressing issues facing our state that we should be devoting time, energy and money to …”
In recent years, Utah has responded to several EMAC deployment requests including sending Utah Highway Patrol troopers and National Guard members to assist with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and providing security at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016.
Since 2018, the Utah National Guard has also sent 226 its members to the southern border on various missions.
“We’re grateful to our National Guard members, state troopers and their families for their willingness to serve and keep us safe,” Cox concluded.