AUSTIN, Texas (AP/KXAN) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is extending the deployment of the National Guard troops at the border with Mexico due to a spike in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing into the state.
Abbott, a Republican, criticized federal officials Tuesday in the wake of U.S. Border Patrol figures that show more than 10,000 unaccompanied children crossing into the U.S. in October in November. That is double the number of crossings in the same two months last year.
“This action would not be necessary if the federal government fulfilled its obligation to secure our nation’s border,” said Abbott in a press release. “The problem is compounded by drug cartels and transnational gang enterprises that are involved in this illegal cross-border activity—including human smuggling. My first and foremost responsibility as Governor is to protect the citizens of Texas, with or without the federal government’s help.”
Along with the extended deployment of National Guard troops, Abbot says he is instructing the Texas Department of Public Safety to coordinate with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to increase the number of boats and tactical officers at various locations along the Rio Grande River. He also wants DPS to increase aerial missions to spot people crossing the border.
The uptick has already prompted Border Patrol to open two shelters in Texas and one in California.
Former Gov. Rick Perry first deployed National Guard troops to the border in 2014. He sent more than 1,000, though only a few hundred have remained in recent months.
Currently, more than 100 DPS officers are already assigned to the border region as a result of the border security plan passed by the Texas Legislature. Additional DPS officers are expected in 2016.