The number of National Guard forces and state troopers deployed to Texas by Republican governors has fallen to just a fraction of what it was over the summer in order to shift resources to processing illegal immigrants — leaving the border “wide open,” according to a report.
“We used to have a National Guard posted there,” Border Patrol agent Chris Cabrera told the Washington Examiner during a recent drive along the border near Hidalgo, Texas. “There was another one right over here, But they took that guy, too.”
Cabrera, the vice president of the Border Patrol union’s Rio Grande Valley chapter, said National Guard soldiers had been posted in 11 locations along a 12-mile stretch of road near the Rio Grande river over the summer.
They operated mobile camera towers and reported sightings of illegal immigrants and drug smugglers trying to cross into the US, he said.
With Border Patrol agents being pulled from the field and assigned to transport and process illegal immigrants in custody, however, many areas of the frontier are now left unguarded.
Cabrera says their absence has left the border “wide open.”
“We were already stretched thin with their help, and having them here relieved a lot of pressure on us,” Cabrera told the newspaper. “Now they took away manpower that we can’t really afford for them to take away.”
Other states — Arkansas and South Dakota — followed suit, and Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and Ohio sent state police.
But nearly all of them have now returned to their home states, as the costs of keeping them deployed strained states’ budgets.
Others were recalled by governors who needed them to bolster law enforcement in their own states.
By last Friday, only 11 out-of-state soldiers were left to help Texas at the border — less than a tenth of the number there over the summer.
“They would monitor the mobile center, mobile tower trucks, camera trucks,” Cabrera told The Examiner. “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.”
The report said Border Patrol agents can be seen in their parked vehicles every half a mile to a mile, and just two agents were patrolling the 12-mile road in the Rio Grande Valley sector, one of the country’s busiest.