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  /  News   /  Noem visits southern border after deploying National Guard

Noem visits southern border after deploying National Guard

DEL RIO, Texas (NewsNation) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday a few months after deploying her state’s National Guard to Texas.

The Republican governor’s visit comes just days after describing the conditions at the border as a “warzone.” She sent a group of her soldiers from South Dakota earlier this year to help build the border wall and has been an outspoken critic of the crisis at the border.

This round of soldiers is the second wave of a few that will arrive at the border, but she’s been sending soldiers to Texas for years to support Gov. Greg Abbott‘s Operation Lonestar.

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As to why a South Dakota public official is touring the border of a state hundreds of miles away from her own, Noem told NewsNation the situation at the border is a concern for the country as a whole.

“We think that our country is in danger, and it is in danger because we have seen these cartels move,” she said. “They’re not just operating at the border; they have now moved their operations to the state of South Dakota. They’re in our poorest communities on tribal reservations. The only people that can help keep them safe is the federal government, and they’re failing to do so.”

Noem has been banned by at least six of the nine Native American tribes in her state as of Wednesday after she made comments earlier this year that the tribes say were offensive. Relations between the governor and the tribes have been strained since she took office in 2019, but her comments, including saying tribal leaders benefit from drug cartels, have caused the tribes to vote to ban her in recent months.

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Noem has defended her comments, saying she’s simply trying to look out for all of South Dakota’s residents.

“I’m just being bold enough to say listen, ‘We cannot have women raped, children trafficked the drugs killing our country. We have to have law and order, and that is why the Guard is here.’ And it’s why I continue to talk about the fact that we have to take care of the cartel and get them out of America.”

NewsNation affiliate The Hill contributed to this report.