Kansas governor’s team responds to border security crisis, pushback from GOP

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Migrants, many from Haiti, wade across the Rio Grande from Del Rio, Texas, to return to Ciudad Acuna, Mexico, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, to avoid deportation from the U.S. The U.S. is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly’s team is responding to months of pushback from the state’s top Republican leaders over Texas’ border crisis.

Sam Coleman, a spokesperson for the governor’s office, sent a statement to Kansas Capitol Bureau on Wednesday, responding to GOP criticism over not answering Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s request to send law enforcement resources to the border. Coleman noted that Kansas troops are already supporting efforts at the border.

“The state of Kansas has had nearly 250 Kansas National Guard Soldiers deployed to the border since October 2020 supporting Customs and Border Protection. Both Republicans and Democrats in Washington have failed to address the problems within our immigration system for decades. We need true reform in a way that protects the border and allows us to continue to grow our economy here in Kansas, not publicity stunts that use our service members as political props.”

SAM COLEMAN, GOVERNOR’S OFFICE

The governor responded to a similar effect back in June, when another request was issued from the state’s Republican U.S. Representatives.

The latest push came from the state’s attorney general and top Republican leaders, Senate President Ty Masterson and House Speaker Ron Ryckman, on Tuesday.

The attorney general and the three senior Kansas leaders asked Kelly to send public safety personnel to Texas and Arizona, two border states, to help with security.

“As the state’s chief law enforcement official and leaders of the Kansas Legislature, we do not think this situation is a ‘political game,’” the leaders wrote. “We encourage you to respond urgently and favorably to the Texas and Arizona request that Kansas assist them in addressing the public safety crisis caused by the federal government’s failure to secure our southern border. It is prudent to help the border states stop trans-national criminals before they reach Kansas and can cause harm in our communities and to our citizens.”

JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL, SENATE PRESIDENT & HOUSE SPEAKER

The attorney general’s statement continued to note that on Monday, half the nation’s governors requested an urgent meeting with President Joe Biden to discuss the crisis at the southern border.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 180,000 encounters on the Mexican border in May, the most since March 2000.

Just this past week, Abbott ordered six points of entry to be shut down. However, the request was denied by the federal government. On Monday, the governor also issued a request to Biden to declare a federal state of emergency.

There’s been a national debate about border security, with many Republicans criticizing the Biden administration’s response to the influx of migrants. In Kansas, there are questions over whether this could be an organized political attack leading up to next year’s gubernatorial election.

Prior to the governor’s team’s statement being released, Kansas GOP Chair Mike Kuckelman denied that the issue is being emphasized as a political strategy in an interview Wednesday, and emphasized the ongoing crisis at the border.

“We’re setting records for people coming across illegally into our country,” Kuckelman said. “People who we don’t know who they are, we don’t know their status, we don’t know their criminal status, we don’t know their vaccination status, we don’t know their COVID status.”

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