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Texas Gov. Abbott Deploys National Guard to Assist in Border Arrests

July 29, 2021 by Reece Nations
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas. (Eric Gay, Associated Press)

AUSTIN, Texas — In accordance with plans first announced in June, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday ordered the state National Guard to aid Department of Public Safety troopers with apprehending individuals for state charges related to the border crisis.

State law enforcement this month began arresting migrants on trespassing charges along the U.S.-Mexico border. Individuals arrested while crossing the border are being held in an empty state prison in Dilley, Texas, which has been converted to accommodate the large number of detainees caught crossing over the border.

“President Biden’s open-border policies have led to a humanitarian crisis at our southern border as record levels of illegal immigrants, drugs, and contraband pour into Texas,” Abbott said during a Border Security Summit in Del Rio. “While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows. The state is working collaboratively with communities impacted by the crisis to arrest and detain individuals coming into Texas illegally.”

Abbott’s deployment of the guard comes after he announced in June the state would not be enforcing the “catch-and-release” policy reinstituted by the Biden administration. President Joe Biden reimplemented the Obama-era policy via executive order in February.

Abbott’s order builds upon a disaster declaration he issued in late-May that directed DPS troopers to “enforce all federal and state criminal laws including for criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking.”

“To respond to this disaster and secure the rule of law at our Southern border, more manpower is needed — in addition to the troopers from DPS and soldiers from the Texas National Guard I have already deployed there — and DPS needs help in arresting those who are violating state law,” Abbott said in the letter. “By virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, I hereby order that the Texas National Guard assist DPS in enforcing Texas law by arresting lawbreakers at the border.”

The proclamation issued by Abbott characterizes the surge of border crossings as an “ongoing and imminent threat of widespread and severe damage, injury, and loss of life and property, including property damage, property crime, human trafficking, violent crime, threats to public health, and a violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity…”

Currently, the order has only applied to single adult men crossers as family units are being transported to a separate facility in Donna, Texas, according to the Associated Press. U.S. officials reported that they had encountered 55,805 members of family units with children in June, a figure up 25% from May, although it still remains well below the May 2019 high of 88,587.

“As a lifelong resident of the border, I know firsthand how much border communities are militarized not only through DHS presence, but through the governor’s deployments of state troopers and the national guard, which leaves residents with fewer freedoms and increased fear — instead of simply having the chance to live out their daily lives in peace,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a written statement.

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