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Texas National Guard Starts Sending Guardsmen To The Border

The plan is to deploy 250 troops as an “initial surge”

The Texas National Guard said Friday night it was already sending Guardsmen to the border, with plans to place 250 troops there in the next 72 hours as an “initial surge,” according to a Guard spokesman.

Two helicopters lifted off Friday night from Austin, the state capital, to head south.

As the helicopters were taking off Friday in Texas, Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Travis Walters said that the 250 troops going “is what our initial surge is so that we can then very quickly roll in a larger amount of forces as needed.”

Walters did not specify where the first round of troops would be stationed.

About 100 Guardsmen remain deployed as part of the existing state mission in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, the busiest corridor for unauthorized crossings on the southwest border.
A proclamation President Trump issued on Wednesday directing the use of National Guard troops refers to Title 32, a federal law under which Guard members remain under the command and control of their state’s governor.

Trump’s proclamation blamed “the lawlessness that continues at our southern border.”

The president has suggested he wants to use the military on the border until progress is made on his proposed border wall, which has mostly stalled in Congress.

Defense Secretary James Mattis Friday night approved paying for up to 4,000 National Guard personnel from the Pentagon budget through the end of September.

A Defense Department memo says the National Guard personnel will not perform law enforcement functions or “interact with migrants or other persons detained” without Mattis’s approval.

It said “arming will be limited to circumstances that might require self-defense,” but it did not further define that.

After plunging at the start of Trump’s presidency, the numbers of migrants apprehended at the southwest border have started to rise in line with historical trends.

The Border Patrol said it caught around 50,000 people in March, more than three times the number in March 2017.

That’s erased a decline for which Trump repeatedly took credit.

Border apprehensions still remain well below the numbers when Bush and Obama deployed the Guard to the border.

News reports of a caravan of Central American migrants passing through southern Mexico also sparked angry tweets from the president.

The caravan of largely Central American migrants never intended to reach the U.S. border, according to organizer Irineo Mujica.

But Trump has repeatedly cited it as an example of what he called America’s weak immigration laws.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have said Guard members could support Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement agencies.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said this week that guard members could “help look at the technology, the surveillance,” and that the department might ask for fleet mechanics.

Federal law restricts the military from carrying out law enforcement duties.

From 2006 to 2008, the Guard fixed vehicles, maintained roads, repaired fences and performed ground surveillance. Its second mission in 2010 and 2011 involved more aerial surveillance and intelligence work.

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Posted on April 6, 2018 (5:15 p.m. Central Time)

The Texas National Guard said it is preparing to deploy to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to a call from President Donald Trump.

The Texas Military Department, the umbrella agency over the Texas’ National Guard branches, said on its Twitter account that it would hold a Friday night news conference on the deployment. Further details were not immediately available.

Trump told reporters Thursday that he wants to send between 2,000 and 4,000 National Guard members to the border to help fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

According to federal data, overall border crossings are at historic lows, despite a recent uptick.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the plan is the same as deploying the national guard during Hurricane Harvey, last year.

Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke said “we should support the border patrol agents … they are trained to patrol the border. U.S. military are not. They are trained to go to war.”

That would be lower than the roughly 6,000 National Guard members that former President George W. Bush sent in 2006 during another border security operation, though more than the 1,200 Guard members President Barack Obama sent in 2010.

While several governors, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have welcomed Trump’s call for troops on the border, none have announced specific plans. A spokeswoman for Abbott did not immediately return messages Friday.

Department of Homeland Security officials have said Guard members could support Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement agencies. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said this week that guard members could “help look at the technology, the surveillance,” and that the department might ask for fleet mechanics.

From 2006 to 2008, the Guard fixed vehicles, maintained roads, repaired fences and performed ground surveillance. Its second mission in 2010 and 2011 involved more aerial surveillance and intelligence work.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now Trump’s energy secretary, also sent about 1,000 Guard members to the border in 2014 in response to a surge in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the Rio Grande, the river that separates the U.S. and Mexico in the state.

About 100 Guardsmen remain deployed as part of that existing state mission.

 

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