Texas National Guard says troops not involved in buoy barrier after governor’s announcement
Stars and Stripes June 9, 2023
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Military Department said Friday that troops are not involved in a buoy barrier being built in the Rio Grande to deter migrants from crossing into the U.S. from Mexico between legal ports of entry.
The military department’s statement follows a news conference held Thursday by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that included Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer, commander of the Texas National Guard, about new border security initiatives.
During the news conference, Abbott said the director of the Department of Public Safety and the commander of the Texas National Guard “came together to employ this strategy” of installing about 1,000 feet of buoys in the river to stop migrants from crossing into Texas.
The installation of the buoy barrier will begin later this month in Eagle Pass, according to Lt. Chris Olivarez, spokesman for the Texas Department of Public Safety.
However, the Guard said no troops will be involved. The buoy barrier is a state police project, according to a Guard spokesman.
“The Texas National Guard continues the work of preventing, deterring and interdicting traffickers and illegal migrants all across the vast Texas border. However, The Texas National Guard is not employing nor installing the buoy barriers,” a Guard spokesman wrote in an emailed statement.
The Texas Guard has about 5,500 troops deployed in cooperation with state police on a state-sponsored mission at the border known as Operation Lone Star. The deployments began more than two years ago to prevent illegal activity such as smuggling drugs and people from Mexico into Texas.
In Thursday’s news conference to announce the buoy barrier, Steven McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, credited the idea of the buoys to Suelzer.
The National Guard does use boats to patrol along the Rio Grande and has built miles of coiled barbed wire barriers along the edge of the river to deter people from crossing between ports of entry.