Georgia state senator is pushing for an invasion declaration at the US-Mexico border

New Senator Colton Moore, R-Trenton, has been appointed chairman of the Senate Intergovernmental Cooperation Committee in the Georgia General Assembly and has called witnesses on the situation on the US southern border.

He has called in several witnesses who have described Georgia Army National Guard troops assisting the federal government at the border.

“I want us to see what the problem really is, and ultimately by finding that knowledge we can find good solutions to fix the problem,” Moore said at a meeting this month. “It’s a lot bigger than just Texas, it’s a lot bigger than just Georgia. We go against an international drug cartel, an international human smuggling cartel.”

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As part of a federal mission, Maj. Gen. Thomas Carden told the committee that Georgia National Guard troops are tracking and monitoring migrant traffic by land and air until they can be intercepted by US border patrol. They also offer intelligence support by monitoring activities in Mexico before migrants reach the border, he said at the hearing.

Carden said there have been few gaps in deployment since President George W. Bush ordered the deployment of National Guard troops in 2006. Although Georgia Army National Guard troops are armed, they can only provide support services such as tracking and monitoring migrants, he said.

The Georgia Army National Guard currently has 126 deployed soldiers, and Carden said the number is down from about 200 a year or 18 months ago. The entire mission involves more than 2,000 troops made up of National Guard units from across the country, he said.

Sen. Josh McLaurin, D-Sandy Springs, and Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, attended the hearing.

“This is an issue all Americans should be concerned about,” Attorney McLaurin said at the hearing. “It’s just a question of what those concerns are and how to address them.”

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Inspector Jeff Roesler said the bureau’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking Division deals with sex and labor trafficking, and over the past year farm-related labor trafficking has been an additional focus.

Human trafficking is different from some other crimes, he said, because victims are often too afraid to ask authorities for help.

“They are masters (traffickers) at exploiting people’s vulnerabilities,” Roesler said. “You find these people at their worst.”

Human trafficking involves violence, fraud or coercion, he said, and brings in more money than smuggling — which is simply taking someone from place to place — he said. Victims of human trafficking are often indebted to the cartel and are forced to pay off that debt under threat of violence against them or their families at home.

Roesler said the bureau has established a human trafficking hotline. People can call 866-363-4842. The tip line includes a Spanish option, he said.

The hearing also featured speakers from Texas, including Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd, who said cartels “ruthlessly” control the border and those who try to cross without pay are often killed.

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“Georgia is being hit by the tide of illegal immigrants, drugs and human trafficking that spills over the southern border every day,” Texas State Assemblyman Bryan Slaton said, adding that the border is a problem for every state.

He called on Georgia to donate to help build a border wall, declare a state-level invasion and declare the cartels terrorist organizations. Because the cartels are so organized and well-equipped, he said, they are difficult to stop.

Chris Russo, the founder and president of Texans for Strong Borders, a nonprofit organization dedicated to border security, told the committee that National Guard troops “often serve as funnels into the broken federal immigration system, where the law isn’t enforced.” With a few extra steps, it’s catch-and-release.”

Russo also recommended declaring a border invasion that could allow National Guard troops to contribute more than border patrol support services.

Adriana Heffley, director of legal services for the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network, said words have power and people should push back on any narrative that dehumanizes people. The nonprofit organization she works for has a mission to protect and empower immigrant crime survivors with free legal services and support.

She said via email that good work is being done in partnerships between law enforcement agencies and non-profit groups on migration and an invasion declaration could criminalize migrant victims.

“This move has the power to erode community trust that some law enforcement partners have been working to build for years,” she said, “and make our communities less safe by sabotaging their efforts to hold the true predators accountable.” “

Moore said every town is a border town and migrants have been housed in his home county of Dade in northwest Georgia.

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“You certainly feel sorry for them. They hope they find a better life – they come from difficult circumstances – but it certainly brought a quick reality (check) to the situation on the ground,” Moore said at the hearing.

The purpose of the hearing was primarily a reality check, Moore said over the phone after the hearing, and to illustrate how the Georgia National Guard is helping at the border. The fact that Georgian law treats smuggling less harshly than human trafficking could be considered for future legislation, he said.

Contact Andrew Wilkins at or 423-757-6659.

Contributed photo/Georgia Army National Guard Spc. Jasmine Davis describes conditions along a stretch of the Rio Grande at the US-Mexico border on November 20, 2019.