Gov. Brad Little says Idaho will send law enforcement to U.S.-Mexico border

In this Sept. 3, 2020, file photo, Idaho Gov. Brad Little speaks at a news conference at the Statehouse in Boise.
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As President Joe Biden faces an influx of asylum seekers at the U.S.-Mexico border, Republicans have capitalized on security concerns from conservatives ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. Now, Idaho Gov. Brad Little is adding his voice to the mix.

Little on Thursday announced he would help Texas and Arizona Republican governors with efforts to secure the U.S.-Mexico border, and answer calls from the executives to “send states’ law enforcement agencies” to the border.

Little in a news release criticized the Biden administration. He said the “smuggling of drugs and illegal weapons, property destruction,” and the daily influx of “illegal immigrants” are worsening problems in the U.S.

“The state of Idaho proudly stands with our fellow Americans along the United States-Mexico border and will do what we can to protect the American people — Idahoans —against the damaging consequences of the inaction of the Biden-Harris administration,” Little said.

The Idaho governor’s announcement comes a week after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey urged other governors to send additional manpower. In a letter to state executives, they cited the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a federal law that allows states to share resources during disasters.

“Texas and Arizona have stepped up to secure the border in the federal government’s absence, and now the Emergency Management Assistance Compact gives your state a chance to stand strong with us,” said the letter, which Little’s office received on Tuesday.

Little’s spokesperson Marissa Morrison Hyer on Thursday didn’t elaborate about the governor’s plans but said details are forthcoming. Idaho State Police spokesperson Lynn Hightower said ISP Colonel Kedrick Wills “is working with the governor’s staff to evaluate resources.”

“It is time for our nation’s governors to do what the federal government won’t — secure the border,” Little said. “Idaho is evaluating our resources, and I will have more to share with Idahoans about our support of this important call to protect our country.”

Idaho congressional delegates push for bipartisan immigration reform

The same day Texas and Arizona governors publicly released a letter to state executives about border security, U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, appeared at a press conference to support a bill that would give H-2A visa holders — agricultural workers — a path to citizenship.

Simpson co-sponsored the bipartisan bill, known as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, which would expand the current program that provides an H-2A temporary visa for agricultural workers as a solution for the labor shortage and the reliance on foreign-born employees.

Officials from the Idaho Dairymen’s Association, Idaho Potato Commission, Idaho Cattle Association and Food Producers of Idaho support the bill. The House passed it, 247-174. Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, voted against it.

GOP senators have stalled efforts for the immigration reform. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, said he plans to co-sponsor a version of the House bill in the Senate.

At a press conference last week, Simpson said he believes the bill can help the situation at the border — but that problems at the border have made it difficult to muster support.

“It’s making it toxic to bring up anything that has the word immigration in it,” Simpson said. “And that’s the challenge we face today.”

Morrison Hyer said Little supports legal immigration.

“Efforts to support legal immigration help Idaho secure a stable and predictable workforce that help address employment needs in our state,” Morrison Hyer said.