Feb 4, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Kristi Noem banned from South Dakota reservation over immigration remarks

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) speaks at a rally on Sept. 8, 2023, in Rapid City, South Dakota. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A South Dakota tribe banned Gov. Kristi Noem (R) from the Pine Ridge Reservation on Friday after recent comments she made about the state's efforts at the southern border and a "cartel presence" on the state's reservations.

Why it matters: Noem has stood alongside several other GOP governors in their support for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) actions regarding the southern border, and deployed South Dakota National Guard troops to Texas multiple times to provide assistance.

Catch up quick: Last week, Noem addressed the South Dakota Legislature, saying that the U.S. "is in a time of invasion" and that this "invasion is coming over the southern border."

  • Noem said "Mexican drug cartels" are the "common enemy" of all U.S. states and are "waging war against our nation."
  • Noem added that drug cartels have "a presence on several of South Dakota's tribal reservations" and said "murders are being committed by cartel members on the Pine Ridge reservation."

In response, Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out said Noem is "hereby vanished from the Homelands of the Oglala Sioux Tribe!" per a Friday statement.

  • He added that "calling the United States' southern border in Texas an 'invasion' by illegal immigrants and criminal groups to justify sending S.D. National Guard troops there is a red herring that the Oglala Sioux Tribe doesn't support."
  • He also noted that many of the people coming to the southern border are Indigenous people "in search of jobs and a better life."

The Republican governor responded on Saturday to the president's remarks, saying it is "unfortunate" that he "chose to bring politics into a discussion regarding the effects of our federal government's failure to enforce federal laws at the southern border and on tribal lands."

  • Noem added that her focus continues to be on "working together to solve those problems" and added that she has "been working for years to build relationships with our tribes."

Zoom out: In effect of heightened crime, the tribe's president declared a state of emergency on the Pine Ridge Reservation this past November, per AP.

  • Just months prior, a federal judge determined that the government has a treaty obligation to support law enforcement on the reservation, according to AP.
  • However, the judge declined to determine whether the Oglala Sioux Tribe was entitled to the full funding it was seeking.

Go deeper: 26 GOP attorneys general back Texas, tell Biden to "secure the border"

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