Christopher Sherman and Paul J. Weber, Big Story, July 22, 2014
Most of the 1,000 National Guard troops headed to the Texas-Mexico border will take up observational positions and detain people only if they interfere with their mission, a top general over the deployment said Tuesday.
Texas Adjutant General John Nichols said the troops will help deter illicit traffic while U.S. Border Patrol agents deal with a record spike of unaccompanied minors entering the country. The Texas National Guard troops are headed to border on the orders of Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who has been a chief critic of the White House response to the crisis and is considering another run for president in 2016.
Nichols said troops will be armed for their safety, but when asked if their weapons would be loaded would say only that ammunition would be in magazines.
Nichols said troops will deploy to the Rio Grande Valley in the next few weeks and that no end date for the operation has been set.
The deployment will cost Texas an estimated $12 million a month–on top of an extra $1.3 million a week the state has recently been giving its Department of Public Safety to ramp up operations along the border.
More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents currently work in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, and Perry had repeatedly asked President Barack Obama to send the National Guard to the border amid the influx.
The new deployment comes two years after the federal Government Accountability Office questioned the impact of the last two times that National Guard troops were sent to the border. A 2012 report found the State Department and Defense Department “expressing concerns about the perception of a militarized border with Mexico.”