National Guardsmen

Texas National Guard says it's preparing to deploy to border

April 06, 2018 - 5:08 pm
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The Texas National Guard says it is preparing to deploy to the U.S.-Mexico border in response to a call from President Donald Trump.

The Texas Military Department, the umbrella agency over the Texas' National Guard branches, said on its Twitter account that it would hold a Friday night news conference on the deployment. Further details were not immediately available.

Trump told reporters Thursday that he wants to send between 2,000 and 4,000 National Guard members to the border to help fight illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

That would be lower than the roughly 6,000 National Guard members that former President George W. Bush sent in 2006 during another border security operation, though more than the 1,200 Guard members President Barack Obama sent in 2010.

While several governors, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have welcomed Trump's call for troops on the border, none have announced specific plans. A spokeswoman for Abbott did not immediately return messages Friday.

Department of Homeland Security officials have said Guard members could support Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement agencies. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said this week that guard members could "help look at the technology, the surveillance," and that the department might ask for fleet mechanics.

From 2006 to 2008, the Guard fixed vehicles, maintained roads, repaired fences and performed ground surveillance. Its second mission in 2010 and 2011 involved more aerial surveillance and intelligence work.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, now Trump's energy secretary, also sent about 1,000 Guard members to the border in 2014 in response to a surge in the number of unaccompanied immigrant children crossing the Rio Grande, the river that separates the U.S. and Mexico in the state.

About 100 Guardsmen remain deployed as part of that existing state mission.