Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday announced the National Guard will once again be deployed to the country’s southern border in an effort to stop illegal immigration into the country.
The announcement by DHS officials comes after President Donald Trump said this week he was deploying military units to the area because Congress, and especially Democrats, have refused to act on the border security.
In a news release, the DHS said it will coordinate with governors in an effort “designed to support ongoing efforts to mitigate the crisis on our border. The deployment will support federal law enforcement personnel, including Customs and Border Protection”
“Federal immigration authorities will direct enforcement efforts,” the release adds. “The deployment’s duration will be determined by Congressional efforts to secure our southern border.”
Trump’s two predecessors, Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama, both deployed guard troops to the border during their tenures.
In 2014, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry deployed state guard units as well after tens of thousands of migrants from Central America began crossing illegally into Texas, mainly in the Rio Grande Valley. That was followed by Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to keep a deployment on the border.
In a statement, Abbott praised the Trump administration’s decision, while stressing that Texas has “maintained a continuous presence of National Guard members along the border” for years.
“Today’s action by the Trump Administration reinforces Texas’ longstanding commitment to secure our southern border and uphold the Rule of Law, and I welcome the support,” Abbott said. “Going forward, Texas will continue to implement robust border security efforts, and this partnership will help ensure we are doing everything we can to stem the flow of illegal immigration.”
During a conference call with reporters, administration officials who spoke on background were scant on details about the deployment but said those were being worked out, including whether the guard members would be armed, where they will be stationed and how many units will enter in to the project.
In previous deployments, the National Guard units took a secondary role and would only assist other state and federal authorities.
The administration officials also said that, at the same time details of the latest deployment are being finalized, the White House would continue pushing legislative proposals to ban so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions, the common term for entities that don’t enforce immigration laws or cooperate with federal authorities.
In tweets earlier this week, Trump said a deployment was necessary until a wall was completed on the southern border.
Texas Democrats blasted the proposal as ill-advised at little more than a political stunt.
“Trump’s deployment of the National Guard to our border communities is unjustified, irresponsible, and dangerous,” State Rep. César Blanco (D-El Paso) said in a statement. “In 2017, apprehensions for illegal border crossing hit a 46-year low – a 23.4% drop from 2016.
“This President is out of touch with reality and has consistently demonstrated his disregard for our border communities and Latinos. Demonizing and militarizing our border only hurts our local communities, families, and economy.”
On the call, administration officials said that soon-to-be released data related to illegal border crossings during the month of March will show a “staggering” increase that will help illustrate the need for the deployment.