Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says he's sending another 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border while blasting Congress as a "group of reprobates" over the "escalating humanitarian crisis."
The governor said at an afternoon press conference among Republican leaders, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris, that additional Guard members will assist DHS and CBP agents at new detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso and at ports of entry.
It brings the total number of Guard members on the Texas border to more than 2,000, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said. There are also 1,400 active-duty soldiers who remain on the border, according to an Army spokesman. The State of Texas has already placed 500 Texas DPS State Troopers along the border permanently.
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"The crisis at our southern border is unlike anything we’ve witnessed before and has put an enormous strain on the existing resources we have in place," said Abbott. "With the deployment of these troops, we are taking action to confront the crisis at the border and keep potentially dangerous criminals and illegal activity out of our communities. By working together with our federal partners, we will continue to pursue a strong and comprehensive strategy to secure our border."
Abbott said in the last three weeks more than 45,000 people from 52 countries have been apprehended while illegally crossing the border into Texas.
In the coming weeks, Abbott said in a statement, the "DHS will establish holding facilities in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso for single adults entering the country illegally."
Texas' top GOP leaders renewed their attacks on Congress after reports that a Texas border facility is neglecting migrant kids. Government facilities are overcrowded, and five immigrant children have died since late last year after being detained by Customs and Border Protection. A teenage mother with a premature baby was found last week in a Texas Border Patrol processing center after being held for nine days by the government.
"The massive increase in illegal immigration — on pace to exceed a million people this year— has been an emergency for months and Texas must continue to do everything we can to help secure our border, including deploying these additional troops," said Patrick in a statement. "Texas communities along the border and throughout the state are struggling to deal with this huge increase. Our health care system and schools are stretched to the breaking point and cost increases on everything from temporary shelter and policing to street cleaning have been astronomical. Governor Abbott, Speaker Bonnen and I are agreed that we must work with our federal partners and act now."
Abbott's announcement came after House Democrats unveiled a $4.5 billion border measure Friday.
Democrats in Texas criticized the new deployment as reckless and unnecessary while harming the United States' relationship with allies in Mexico and Central America.
"Deploying more National Guard to the border is a fool's errand and a waste of millions of taxpayer dollars. ... This latest action will not help to alleviate the humanitarian crisis at our southern border," Senate Democratic Leader Jose Rodriguez of El Paso said in a statement.
Texas has used National Guard members on the border since 2014, when then-Gov. Rick Perry also deployed 1,000 guardsman. Texas has also spent billions of dollars in border security over the last decade, including assigning more state troopers to the southern region.
Abbott said the federal government will pay for the additional Guard deployment.