After a tour of the southern border Wednesday, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte along with nine other GOP governors released a 10-point plan to "end the crisis."
In a press release after the tour, which included a briefing from law enforcement, Gianforte's office sent a press release that detailed the policies the governors proposed.
The governors called for continuing the use of a public health rule used during the pandemic that allows Border Patrol agents to expel those who come to the southern border without the opportunity to seek asylum. The list also included "finish securing the border," though it did not specify how.
Additionally, the governors called for more law enforcement and National Guard troops. Some states earlier this year sent their National Guard members to the border in response to a request from border states. Montana did not send Guard members, the governor's office said at the time of the request and in the following weeks. Nearly 150 Montana Guard members are currently serving in the state's hospitals because of overwhelming demand spurred by the pandemic.
The governors' full proposal calls for:
- Continuing Title 42 public health restrictions.
- Fully reinstating the Migrant Protection Protocols.
- Finish securing the border.
- Ending catch and release.
- Clearing the judicial backlog.
- Resuming the deportation of all criminals.
- Dedicating federal resources to eradicate human trafficking and drug trafficking.
- Re-entering all agreements with our Northern Triangle partners and Mexico.
- Sending a clear message to potential migrants.
- Deploying more federal law enforcement officers and National Guard troops.
Both before the trip and Wednesday, Gianforte placed blame for what he called an "ongoing crisis at the southern border that threatens the safety and well-being of our communities" on the Biden administration.
Gianforte said that meth and fentanyl that reaches Montana, which has struggled to combat addition to those substances, has come from Mexico.
“As our families and communities confront the epidemic of drug abuse and illegal drug use, it’s critical to cut off the supply crossing the southern border and making it into Montana. As a result of President Biden’s border crisis, Montana is losing while drug cartels are profiting," Gianforte said.
The press release pointed to drugs seized at the border, including nearly 775 pounds of fentanyl and nearly 17,800 pounds of methamphetamine in the month of July.
The other GOP governors who attended the tour, briefing and press conference include Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Brad Little of Idaho, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Greg Abbott of Texas, and Mark Gordon of Wyoming.
The briefing was delivered by Steve McCraw, director and colonel of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, also spoke with the governors.
In advance of a tour and press conference, Gianforte appeared on Fox News, saying the reason for the trip was to draw attention to what he called an "unmitigated disaster."
"It is a humanitarian disaster, it is a national security disaster," Gianforte told host Ainsley Earhardt in the morning broadcast before he and 10 other GOP governors toured the border and held a press conference.
During the TV spot, Gianforte cited the amount of methamphetamine that's been seized at the border, as well as people trying to enter the country.
"We've had over 1.3 million illegals apprehended at the southern border. Those are just the ones that were caught. That's more than the entire population of my state of Montana," Gianforte said.
A group of Republican governors in late September sent the administration a note asking for a meeting about issues along the border; on Wednesday Gianforte's office said the administration has not yet responded.
Flight-tracking data shows Gianforte's private plane left the Bozeman airport Tuesday and landed at McAllen Miller International Airport in McAllen, Texas, later in the day. After taking office, Gianforte said he would use his private plane to travel instead of the state airplane and foot his own travel bills.