Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry made a splash about sending Louisiana National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border to "help" deal with our nation's ongoing immigration issues.
That's a bad idea.
Landry shouldn't mimic the Florida, Mississippi and Texas governors by griping about Democrat Joe Biden's handling of the border. He should look at Louisiana's border problem — particularly all the young people crossing our borders to seek opportunities in other states.?
Referencing the bipartisan border security bill that fizzled in the U.S. Congress a few days ago, Landry said at a Thursday news conference, "We are standing here today because the federal government refuses to act, because the president refuses to do his job."
Actually, it's Landry's fellow Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate who aren't doing their jobs. They demanded that border security be part of any Ukraine aid package — then, on orders from former President Donald Trump — they balked when one of their own senators successfully negotiated a very good border deal.
Just a guess, but I think most Louisiana voters care more about how many of their family members are permanently leaving our state than how many people are crossing Texas' southern border illegally.?
In a move that was more show than substance,?Republican governors from 25 states have signed a statement?supporting Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a far-right Republican, in his fight?with Democratic President Joe Biden over?immigration control. Landry was among them.
Earlier this month, more than a dozen GOP governors joined Abbott at the border — and committed to help him by sending resources, including National Guard troops. Landry was among them.
Recent estimates indicate Landry's "support" of the Texas governor?will cost Louisiana taxpayers about $3 million. Brig. Gen. Michael Greer told reporters Thursday that the mission will include 150 troops on three rotations of 50. Greer added they will not be authorized to detain migrants.
So, what will they do?
Landry justified sending the National Guard to Texas by saying too much fentanyl from Mexico is coming into Louisiana, and far too many Louisianans know people dealing with fentanyl problems.
I can't say he's wrong about combating fentanyl, but there are better ways to fight it than sending National Guard troops to Texas, especially when they have no authority to detain people there.
Why not get behind nonpartisan efforts via the?Drug Enforcement Agency, or?bi-partisan efforts in the U.S. Senate??
Certainly more is needed to deal with this scourge. But sending the Louisiana National Guard to Texas? I think not.
Besides, federal border agents are charged with securing U.S. borders, and I doubt very National Guard troops from Louisiana speak Chinese or other Asian languages — which are the primary languages of an increasing number of people crossing the Texas-Mexico border. Oh, and how many of them speak Spanish?
Then there's the issue of using Louisiana State Troopers to fight crime in large cities, as Landry wants to do in New Orleans. On that, Landry ought to learn from Abbott's experience in Austin.
In the spring and summer of last year, Abbott sent a total of 130 Texas State Troopers into the Democratic City of Austin to help fight crime, at the request of?Austin's Democratic Mayor Kirk Watson. Abbott also created the Texas Tactical Border Force to enforce immigration laws at Austin Bergstrom International Airport.
By mid-July,?Watson ended that arrangement?after a Texas trooper pulled a gun on a 10-year-old kid and investigative reports showed that?Black and Latino people?were being disproportionally arrested by the troopers.?
Landry received no request for troopers from New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, but Cantrell has embraced the idea. She also loved Landry blaming New Orleans' crime problem on the federal consent decree that has governed New Orleans Police Department operations for more than a decade. Then-Mayor Mitch Landrieu sought the federal decree after some bad police incidents.
New Orleans City Councilman Oliver Thomas, who chairs the council's criminal justice committee, has supported the governor's interest in helping NOPD, but he has raised some important questions. Who will supervise the state troopers? Will they abide by the federal consent decree? Will they disproportionately arrest Black people?
Recent estimates indicate that permanently deploying 40 State Police to "Troop NOLA"??will cost millions annually.
Time will tell if the Landry-Cantrell partnership fares better than Texas' Abbott-Watson experiment.
I believe this much is clear: Louisianans didn't elect Landry to safeguard the Texas border or to run an anti-Biden immigration policy campaign. He pitched himself as a tough-on-crime problem solver during his campaign. That's a tall enough order all by itself.