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North Dakota sending Guard soldiers to US-Mexico border

July 6, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — About 125 soldiers from a Bismarck-based National Guard unit will be sent to the U.S. border with Mexico later this year for an undetermined amount of time, the North Dakota guard said Tuesday.

The soldiers from the 957th Engineer Company are expected to begin the deployment this fall, the military said.

Mike Nowatzki, a spokesman for Gov. Doug Burgum, said the Department of the Army made the request through the National Guard Bureau.

“We have monitored the ongoing crisis at the southern border and have responded to the request by sending North Dakota National Guard Soldiers to support the efforts to secure our border,” the Republican governor said in a statement.

Nowatzki said the deployment is being funded by the federal government.

Burgum is among a growing list of Republican governors promising to send law enforcement officers to Texas. Republican governors from Arkansas, Florida, Nebraska and Iowa have all committed to sending law enforcement officers for border security.

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In South Dakota, a billionaire Republican donor is paying $1 million to help defray the cost of deploying the South Dakota National Guard to the U.S. -Mexico border. Noem’s office said she accepted the offer from donor Willis Johnson to save taxpayers money.

Nowatzki said he was not aware of any private donors who had offered to offset the cost of the deployment of North Dakota National Guard troops.

The South Dakota National Guard is expected to deploy for 30 to 60 days, while the other states involved are sending law enforcement officers for roughly two-week stints. It’s unclear how long North Dakota troops would be deployed, Nowatzki said.

The 957th Engineer Company is made up of about 375 soldiers. The unit specializes in combat engineering bridge operations. The unit served in Iraq in 2003 and 2004, and Kosovo in 2009 and 2010.