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'Literally a war zone': Noem questions whether VP Harris is 'aware she's in charge' of border

In South Dakota, "the increase in illegal drugs and activity has been dramatic since we've seen this open border," said GOP Gov. Kristi Noem.

Published: July 29, 2022 12:12pm

Updated: July 31, 2022 11:25pm

South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem questions whether Vice President Kamala Harris, whom President Biden put in charge of managing U.S.-Mexico border policy, even knows she's in charge because she's "seen no activity from her."

Noem, a potential 2024 GOP presidential candidate, was asked for her assessment of Harris' job performance as the border czar.

"I don't even know if she's aware she's in charge, because I've seen no activity for her," Noem told Just the News during a roundtable with journalists ahead of her keynote address at the Young America's Foundation student conference on Thursday. "It's unfortunate." 

Republicans on Capitol Hill often say that every state is a border state, given that the Biden administration is allowing the release of millions of illegal immigrants into the U.S. after they arrive at the border to make an asylum claim. Noem elaborated on the challenges her state is facing with illegal immigration.

"I think what's happening at the border is completely different than just illegal immigration," she said. "This is a national security threat because we don't have a secure border.

"When Arizona and Texas requested help, I sent my National Guard. In fact, I was the first governor to send National Guard. Most other governors were responding with law enforcement, but recognizing the unique situation we have down there, it literally is a war zone, so we had members volunteer to go as a unit to partner with the Texas Guard and work with Border Patrol, and they were there for a period of time. 

"And now I'll be sending down some of my National Guard, Lakota helicopters, to help us with surveillance, but for us in particular, you know, I telegraphed pretty widely to my NGOs and nonprofits that if they cooperated with facilitating people that were crossing the border illegally in our state, that they would have a difficult time with their state contracts and licenses if they worked to break our federal laws in partnership with what this administration is doing."

Noem also said her state is having difficulty with the illegal drugs and human trafficking coming across the border.

"The drugs and human trafficking are devastating for our state," she said "I have nine Native American tribes, and they are sovereign governments. I don't have any authority or jurisdiction on their lands. And a lot of the drugs and trafficking that's happening that go out throughout the Midwest are being funneled through my tribal reservations.

"So there's very little law and order there. There's a lot of poverty and wide open spaces, and we've got some of the cartels that have a presence in South Dakota on our reservation land, and a lot of those drugs are moving through those areas. And I have very little that I can do to address it, so the increase in illegal drugs and activity has been dramatic since we've seen this open border." 

Just the News asked Noem if her state is accepting illegal immigrants via bus or plane from the border. Washington D.C. is accepting thousands, and Mayor Muriel Bowser is asking the Biden administration for help.

"We have not seen that," said Noem. "And I haven't had reports of that in our state. I think it's because I have been pretty open and aggressive with our nonprofits on their activities and involvement on how that would be received." 

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