Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that the state will deploy 1,000 troops from the Texas National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border to aid the federal government with border security efforts.
“There is an escalating crisis at the border — a crisis Congress is refusing to fix,” said Abbott, who was flanked by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, along with Brig. Gen. Tracy Norris, the adjutant general of the Texas National Guard, during a news conference at the Texas Capitol.
Abbott said the troops will have two main roles: to help at temporary holding facilities for single adult migrants in the Rio Grande Valley and in El Paso, and to help Border Patrol units along ports of entry. The federal government, he said, will pay “100% of the costs of this short-term mission,” which will roughly double the number of Texas troops currently stationed at the border.
The Tribune's reporting for this project is supported by the Pulitzer Center.
Migrant apprehensions along the border have continued to surge in recent months. According to numbers released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the beginning of June, roughly 133,000 were apprehended or surrendered to border agents along the southwest border in May.
In the El Paso and Del Rio sectors, the number of migrants crossing the border has jumped 43% and 46%, respectively, since April. The vast majority of migrants entering the country are unaccompanied minors or families from Central America who are seeking asylum in the United States.
The trio of leaders also underscored the fact that that they’re fed up with inaction in Washington, D.C., on the issue — and rejected any suggestion that they’ve enabled it by doling out millions of state dollars for border security.
“Congress is a group of reprobates for not addressing a crisis on our border,” said Abbott, who signed a 2020-21 state budget earlier this month that has $800 million earmarked for border security operations.
“Shame on Congress if they won’t do their job,” Bonnen said. “Just because they won’t get their job done doesn’t mean we won’t do our job.”
In the final days of the 86th regular legislative session, state budget writers emerged with a proposal to funnel an extra $100 million from the state’s savings account to Abbott’s office for “surge operations necessary to secure the border.” Lawmakers said they anticipated the federal government to repay the funds — but after pushback from some Democrats, both the House and Senate voted to strip the funding.
National Guard deployments at the Texas-Mexico border have become relatively common in recent years. President Donald Trump sent troops to the border in 2018 after saying Congress wasn’t acting on border security.
Trump's two predecessors, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, also temporarily sent guard troops to the border. Bush sent about 6,000 National Guard troops there in 2006. Obama deployed 1,200 in 2010.
And Abbott’s predecessor, Republican Rick Perry, deployed state guard units as tens of thousands of migrants from Central America began crossing illegally into Texas, mainly in the Rio Grande Valley.
As news of the latest deployment settled in Friday afternoon, Democrats knocked GOP state leaders for what they characterized as “manufacturing yet another border crisis.”
“Deploying 1000 new troops to the border is reckless, unnecessary, and further serves to harm our relationships with our strategic allies in Central America and Mexico,” Gilberto Hinojosa, chair of the Texas Democratic Party, said in a released statement. “Deploying new troops to the border solves nothing.”