“The Texas National Guard is playing an unprecedented role to secure the border because of the unprecedented refusal of the federal government to fulfill its obligations under federal law,” the governor said in a statement. The National Guard typically doesn’t have immigration law enforcement capabilities, according to Border Report.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Austin. (Associated Press)
“To respond to this disaster and secure the rule of law at our Southern border, more manpower is needed,” Abbott wrote in a letter sent to Major Gen. Tracy R. Norris of the Texas Military Department. “DPS needs help in arresting those who are violating state law. … I hereby order that the Texas National Guard assist DPS in enforcing Texas law by arresting lawbreakers at the border.”
That July order expanded on Abbott’s June disaster declaration, which directed the DPS to enforce all federal and state criminal laws, including those on criminal trespassing, smuggling and human trafficking. The declaration had allowed the use of all available state resources to assist state and local law enforcement in protecting Texans from “criminal activity and property damage.”
Nearly 213,000 migrants were encountered at the southern border in July, a 13% increase over the already massive 188,000 migrant encounters in June, according to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. In July 2020, there were just 40,929 encounters.
While the Biden administration has blamed root causes like poverty, violence, and climate change in Central America for the continued crisis, and has unveiled strategies to tackle those causes, Republicans have repeatedly blamed policies by the Biden administration for fueling the surge.
Abbott has made funding for border security a priority for the current legislative special session. In a call Saturday with border sheriffs and county judges, he urged them to make their voices heard to the House Appropriations Committee during a hearing this week. Part of the funding will go toward the deployment of more National Guard members to the border, according to his office.
In March, Abbott launched Operation Lone Star to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas. Since then, more than 4,600 arrests have been made by the DPS for charges including criminal mischief and criminal trespass.
The operation has also led to the confiscation of more than 700 pounds of cocaine, 127 pounds of deadly fentanyl, and at least 270 firearms.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.