A much larger section of the Texas-Mexico border is now “wide open” after officials in Republican-led states who sent National Guard troops and law enforcement officers to help state and federal authorities deal with an unprecedented surge in migrants crossing illegally into the U.S.
Earlier this year as of hundreds of thousands of migrants began streaming into the country and overwhelming Border Patrol and Texas law enforcement officials, red-state governors like Florida’s Ron DeSantis and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem answered Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s call for additional assistance in the form of Guard troops and law enforcement personnel.
But though the migrant crisis continues, just 6 percent of the reinforcements sent over the summer remain as Republican governors pull their personnel out.
“We used to have a National Guard posted there,” Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrera pointed out to a correspondent for the Washington Examiner near McAllen, Texas, as they drove along a dirt road running parallel to the Mexico border recently. “There was another one right over here, but they took that guy, too.”
Cabrera, who is the vice president of the Rio Grande Valley chapter of the Border Patrol’s union, pointed out a total of 11 positions formerly manned by National Guard troops who monitored the border in mobile camera towards all summer calling, calling in sightings of migrants crossing illegally or drug smugglers attempting to sneak in their contraband.
But now, there are no troops — or Border Patrol agents, either — in those locations, as the Guard forces were withdrawn and half of his fellow border agents have been pulled from enforcement duty to process and transport illegal aliens. He also admits that authorities really don’t have any idea who is crossing those unmanned portions of the border, describing the area as “wide open.”
“We were already stretched thin with their help and having them here relieved a lot of pressure on us,” Cabrera told the Examiner. “Now they took away manpower that we can’t really afford for them to take away.”
In response to Abbott’s call earlier this year, which went out to most of the other states, Arkansas and South Dakota agreed to send National Guard troops; Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, and Ohio sent state troopers.
Four months later, almost all of them have gone back home, according to information provided by the Texas Military Department and Texas Division of Emergency Management. Last week, Iowa’s GOP governor, Kim Reynolds, said her state could not continue paying for state troopers to work outside the state; other governors have said they need their own law enforcement officers back in their own communities.
As of Friday, the Examiner reported, just 11 out-of-state Guard troops remained in Texas.
“They would monitor the mobile center, mobile tower trucks, camera trucks,” Cabrera noted. “Nobody is bringing those out because they’re not there. These were static positions where we would put a vehicle and two Guardsmen in there so if somebody ran across that area, they could call it out.”
Meanwhile, the administration is canceling the remaining contracts for sections of border wall after President Biden ordered a construction moratorium upon taking office. Last week the Department of Homeland Security said it would “cancel the remaining border barrier contracts located within U.S. Border Patrol’s (USBP) Laredo Sector and all border barrier contracts located in the Rio Grande Valley Sector.”
“[Customs and Border Protection] will then begin environmental planning and actions consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for previously planned border barrier system projects located within the Rio Grande Valley, Laredo, and El Centro Sectors,” the department said in a statement.
“The Administration continues to call on Congress to cancel remaining border wall funding and instead fund smarter border security measures, like border technology and modernization of land ports of entry, that are proven to be more effective at improving safety and security at the border,” the statement continued.
The announcement that DHS was canceling the contracts came after former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott said in an interview with Fox News’ Bret Baier that the government was paying out $5 million a day to idle border wall contractors.
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