Texas is responding to President Donald Trump's request to move more troops to the Mexican border. Gov. Greg Abbott says 762 members of the Texas National Guard have already deployed to the border region, and that number will eventually increase to 1,400. The governor met with some of those troops Thursday in Weslaco, before briefing the media about the effort, which has been dubbed Operation Guardian Shield.
Gov. Abbott says he believes President Trump is doing the right thing, noting a 200 percent increase in illegal crossings, gang and drug activity at the border in recent months. "Just in the Rio Grande Valley sector alone, there are more than 450 apprehensions per day, and so it has gotten back to levels that are very high based on what we've seen over the past decade," Abbott told the briefing. "This cross-border activity is posing serious threats and danger, not just to people in the border region, but people throughout the state of Texas and throughout the United States."
The governor says the National Guard troops will be involved in surveillance and support, but will not be apprehending anyone crossing the border. That job will remain with the Border Patrol. "The Border Patrol officers who were not actively engaged in the apprehension process along the border will now be freed up from whatever their task was, and will have the time and the ability to be more fully engaged," says Abbott.
Ultimately, Abbott believes the operation is about keeping people safe. "We want to shut down the cartels and the gangs and the smugglers who are trying to import crime into the United States," he says.