MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers ordered the state’s National Guard troops to withdraw from the border with Mexico Monday, drawing the ire of a Republican congressman from Illinois who says he serves in the Wisconsin National Guard and the border mission is honorable.
Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker ordered troops to Arizona in June to assist with administrative duties along the border. Evers, a Democrat, issued an executive order Monday withdrawing them. Evers announced the order late Monday afternoon.
The governor said about 112 troops are currently serving in Arizona but keeping the borders safe and protecting immigrants seeking asylum is the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s job. He said there’s not enough evidence to support Republican President Donald Trump’s declaration that a national emergency exists and there’s no justification for Wisconsin troops to remain.
"I cannot support keeping our brave service men and women away from their families without a clear need or purpose that would actively benefit the people of Wisconsin or our nation," Evers said.
Adam Kinzinger, a Republican congressman from Illinois, tweeted on Monday that he is a member of the Wisconsin National Guard and criticized Evers for his decision. In a series of tweets, he said he was sent to the border as a member of the Wisconsin National Guard and his crew caught a man crossing the border with 70 pounds of methamphetamine.
"Wonder the damage that would do in Milwaukee ..." he tweeted.
He went on to claim that he and his crew "captured a few coyotes, who prey on desperate migrants" and he came across a woman alone in the desert and helped the border patrol rescue her.
He tweeted that stopping illegal immigration is an honorable mission and asked Evers whether his decision to withdraw was a political one. He also asked Evers to reconsider.
Kinzinger echoed those sentiments during an appearance on Fox News, criticizing Evers for not visiting the troops on the border. He accused the governor of lacking the courage to announce the withdrawal earlier in the day.
A Wisconsin National Guard spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to an email seeking to confirm whether Kinzinger is a Wisconsin National Guard member and whether he would face any military discipline for criticizing Evers, the state National Guard's commander in chief.
A Kinzinger spokeswoman in Washington, D.C., also didn't immediately respond to an email.
A March 2016 photo posted on the Wisconsin Air National Guard 115th Fighter Wing’s website shows Kinzinger receiving a service medal. The caption indicates the photo was taken at Truax Field in Madison and Kinzinger was a major serving as a pilot in the 115th at the time.