Texas Governor Greg Abbott has ordered the Texas National Guard units responsible for border protection to remain at their posts overseeing the U.S.-Mexico border to deter the movement of unaccompanied children into the Lone Star state.
The duty was set to expire this month.
Gov. Abbott also ordered an increase of air surveillance missions and patrols on the Rio Grande River.
National Guard units were ordered to the border 18 months ago under former governor Rick Perry to halt a wave of children entering Texas from central America via Mexico.
Called “Operation Strong Safety,” Perry’s plan began with sending the Texas State Police to aid local law enforcement and Border Patrol; however, confronted with as many as 6,000 immigrants a month, Perry sent 1,000 National Guardsmen in July 2014.
Plans to reduce the National Guard presence were reversed when October yielded 10,000 children, nearly double the number from October 2014.
To address the sharp growth of children entering illegally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) opened two facilities to house detainees.
HHS spokesperson Andrea Helling describes a majority of children seeking refuge in the Texas as originating from Guatemala, Honduras or Ecuador:
“They can spend up to 30 days waiting for a relative to sponsor their release and receive a date for an immigration hearing,” Helling said.
In criticizing the Obama Administration’s reaction to Texas’ recent increase in immigrant children, Abbott said:
“Texas will not sit idle in the face of this challenge. We will not be victimized as a state by a federal government’s apathetic response to border security.”
Abbott added the mission will not end until the $800-million program to train new law enforcement to assume the National Guardsmen’s responsibilities was complete.
[Reuters] [Photo courtesy Keranews.com]