800 additional active-duty troops to deploy to US-Mexico border as migrant crossings increase
Stars and Stripes September 21, 2023
AUSTIN, Texas — An additional 800 active-duty troops were ordered Wednesday to deploy to the southwest U.S. border as the daily number of migrants crossing has more than doubled this month, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
The newly deployed service members will join roughly 2,500 National Guard troops already assigned to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, DHS said in a statement that rolled out a series of changes meant to increase border enforcement and accelerate work authorizations for some immigrants.
“For 90 days, these up to 800 [personnel] will fill critical capability gaps, such as ground-based detection and monitoring, data entry, information analysis, transportation and supply chain support, until DHS can address these needs through contracted support,” a Defense Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Military personnel will not directly participate in law-enforcement activities or have direct contact with migrants.”
The official did not specify when troops will travel to the border or where along the border they will offer support.
The deployment comes as Border Patrol agents detained roughly 140,000 migrants who crossed between the legal entry points into the U.S. from Mexico during the first 20 days of September, according to a report from CBS News. That’s an average of about 6,900 a day — up 60% from the 4,300 daily crossings seen in July.
In Eagle Pass, Texas, Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr. on Tuesday issued a seven-day emergency declaration “due to the severe undocumented immigrant surge,” according to a statement from the city.
About 3,000 migrants crossed near Eagle Pass on Wednesday alone, Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber told CNN. Eagle Pass is in the county and has a population of more than 28,500.
The Pentagon has been helping the Department of Homeland Security with operations at the border since 2018 when former President Donald Trump declared an emergency at the southwest border. When President Joe Biden took office, he rescinded the declaration but kept troops in place.
The Biden administration also has been changing how migrants can seek asylum among other reforms meant to dissuade people crossing without authorization.
In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott has deployed thousands of Texas National Guard troops on a mission along the state border that is separate from the federal troops. Texas Guard members work with the Texas Department of Public Safety to enforce state laws.