ST. GEORGE — In a press release issued Friday, Utah Gov. Spencer J. Cox announced he will be sending law enforcement and Utah National Guard members to the Texas border after Utah’s Department of Public Safety and Utah National Guard received Emergency Management Assistance Compact requests from their Texas counterparts. The requests came days after Gov. Cox visited the border with 14 fellow governors.

In this file photo, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks to media at the St. George Regional Airport, St. George, Utah, Jan. 11, 2024 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

On Feb. 26, Utah National Guard will send five soldiers from the engineer battalion to maintain military equipment on the southern border. That same day, one sergeant and four troopers from the Utah Highway Patrol’s Criminal Interdiction Team, which specializes in drug investigations, will be deployed for 30 days.

“Open borders threaten our national security and if the president and Congress won’t solve the influx of people and drugs, states have to step up,” Cox said in the news release. “Right now, Texas needs our help and we’re grateful to our National Guard members, state Troopers and their families for their willingness to serve and keep us safe.”

The Utah Highway Patrol estimates the monthlong deployment will cost nearly $100,000 while the two-week deployment of Utah National Guard members will cost some $50,000. Funding will come from the Governor’s Office Emergency Fund.

In recent years, Utah has responded to several Emergency Management Assistance Compact deployments including sending troopers and guard members to assist with the emergency response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and providing security at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016. Since 2018, the Utah National Guard has sent 226 Guard members to the border on various missions.

Utah Democratic Party Chair Diane Lewis released the following statement in response to the governor’s orders:

“This is just the latest in a long line of recent actions by Spencer Cox that prove that he is more interested in playing political games than getting important things done for the state of Utah. No matter how hard he tries to falsely justify his grandstanding through fear-mongering, the fact is that we have far more pressing issues facing our state that we should be devoting time, energy, and money to than posturing in an effort to please Donald Trump.

“Once again, if Cox and his Republican friends are so concerned about the border, they should be supporting the bipartisan proposal negotiated by President Biden and Senate Republicans. We deserve a governor who is more focused on doing work for the people of Utah than building his own personal brand on the national stage or protecting his own political ambitions.”