Georgia to send more National Guard troops to US border

Georgia Republicans press to keep border security in campaign spotlight
Gov. Brian Kemp announces a state immigration policy. (Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Gov. Brian Kemp announces a state immigration policy. (Natrice Miller /

Gov. Brian Kemp will deploy more Georgia National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico to curb illegal crossings, part of a growing Republican effort to back Texas in its battle with President Joe Biden over immigration policy.

The governor announced the plan to send about 15 to 20 Guard troops to the border as Republicans seek to capitalize on concerns about uncontrolled crossings in an election year.

It came as Republican legislators pushed through a resolution that condemned Biden’s immigration policies, endorsed a border wall and backed Kemp’s effort to “allocate resources and assistance” to block illegal crossings.

“Because of Joe Biden’s failure to address the crisis at the southern border, every state is now a border state,” said Kemp, who joined Texas Gov. Greg Abbott weeks ago in a border town to support the state’s legal showdown with the White House over immigration.

It’s part of an effort to put Democrats on the defensive after Republican leaders in Congress scuttled a border security deal at the urging of former President Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner who wants to keep illegal immigration alive as a campaign issue against Biden.

With polls showing an increasing number of voters expressing concerns about illegal immigration, state Republicans are aiming to reclaim the narrative after the failure of a compromise border deal that would have made it harder for migrants to legally enter the U.S.

Kemp and other Republicans are blaming Biden for the inaction, saying the Democrat’s recent calls for a border deal are “completely political” after ignoring years of calls from mayors, governors and other local leaders earlier in his term to curb illegal immigration.

Democrats called the Republican rush to criticize the president over border policies pointless posturing designed to score political points in an election year.

“This is ridiculous. What a waste of time that we are on Legislative Day 20 debating a resolution to condemn our current president,” state Rep. Sam Park, one of his party’s leaders, said Tuesday. “What a shame that this is the priority of the majority party.”

Democratic state Rep. Sam Park slammed Republican criticism of President Joe Biden on border security as "ridiculous." Park added, "What a shame that this is the priority of the majority party.” (Arvin Temkar /

Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

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Credit: Arvin Temkar/AJC

But it hit a nerve with Republicans who have been bombarded with complaints from constituents about federal immigration policies.

Republican state Rep. Kasey Carpenter has backed a series of stalled measures to allow some immigrants who have been granted a reprieve from deportation to pay in-state college tuition. On Tuesday, he declared he was “sick and tired” of the federal gridlock.

“The federal government continues to wet the bed at the border,” said Carpenter, whose Dalton-based district includes a significant number of Latino residents who work in the local carpet industry. “Neither side on this issue wants to solve it.”

‘Fill the void’

Kemp has grown more outspoken in his criticism of Biden’s immigration approach as the November election nears. He’s also used it as an outlet to slam Democratic policies while steering clear of Trump, the likely GOP nominee who has long feuded with him.

Kemp has long called for stricter border controls, and he deployed a National Guard force to the border during Trump’s presidency in 2019. Officials say 29 Georgia troops are still stationed there, mostly assigned to aerial surveillance units.

Under Kemp’s plan, a contingent of Guard troops who specialize in engineering and other skills will deploy this spring. They will be tasked to help build a forward command post on the Texas border with Mexico.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently quit his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, also plans to send hundreds of Guard members to the Texas border. Several other GOP governors are considering similar moves.

Kemp has previously suggested he could send more troops, though he’s blamed Biden for not using his federal authority to bring a more comprehensive solution.

“I’m glad to try to send more resources and help,” Kemp told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview. “But I’d rather be answering the president’s call to send resources to protect the whole southern border — not just the southern border in Texas.”

Kemp was among about a dozen governors who traveled to the U.S. border earlier this month to stand with Abbott in Eagle Pass, a border town of roughly 30,000 that has become a flashpoint in a power struggle with the Biden administration.

The showdown helped sharpen the focus on immigration in an election year. The federal government reported 302,000 encounters with unauthorized migrants in December, setting a record for a month, fueling new calls to take action at the border.

It was Kemp’s second recent visit to the border, and it underscored the political collision between the federal government and GOP officials who say lax enforcement is allowing violent criminals and lethal drugs to illegally enter the U.S.

Sen. Jason Anavitarte (R—Dallas) speaks about the Tik Tok bill that would ban the app on all state-owned devices on Thursday, February 16, 2023. (Natrice Miller/

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

“We need to fill the void the federal government is leaving,” said Republican state Sen. Jason Anavitarte, one of the state’s most prominent elected Latino officials. “It’s not as simple as immigration policy. It’s about national security.”

GOP legislators this week passed border resolutions in both the House and the Senate, adding to a string of partisan statements aimed at energizing conservative voters — and squeezing Democrats on divisive issues.

Over a special legislative session last year, Republicans engineered votes on resolutions that condemned the Oct. 7 terror attack by Hamas, praised Israel’s conduct in the war and offered unconditional support for the controversial Atlanta public safety training center. Democrats say they will only backfire.

“Is this really where we want to be as a body, that we’re condemning the president of the United States? Is this really where we stand now?” asked Democratic state Sen. Harold Jones II of Augusta. “Because in reality, he’s really tough on the border.”

Staff writer Michelle Baruchman contributed to this article.