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Border & Immigration

Texas begins show-of-force exercises along the border as the end of Title 42 looms

National Guard show-of-force exercises in Eagle Pass
Carolina Cuellar
Texas Public radio
National Guardsmen performing Operation Steel Curtain exercises at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas.

In response to the looming end of a controversial public health policy, Title 42, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered show-of-force exercises along the Texas-Mexico border. Now, these drills are underway and will continue through the end of May.

This is in anticipation of an influx in crossings, explained Sgt. Juan Maldonado of the Texas Department of Public Safety during an exercise in Eagle Pass.

“It’s just to show the presence known to the United States and the counties and citizens that we're here to support them,” he said. “As well to show force and presence to the Mexico side in case the migration starts to occur.”

Border security drills began on Thursday in several locations along the border, including Eagle Pass and Del Rio.

In both border towns, DPS and the National Guard practiced forming perimeters along the river. In Eagle Pass, they also performed riot control exercises.

DSC00028 (3).JPG
Carolina Cuellar
Texas Public Radio
DPS practicing forming a perimeter around the Rio Grande at Shelby Park in Eagle Pass, Texas.

“It’s to see how fast we can set up a perimeter in our barrier in case something happens coming this way to prevent it from escalating on our side,” Maldonado explained.

Title 42 is a Trump-era policy that allows the United States to turn migrants away at the border before they can claim asylum. Critics of Title 42 say it violates people’s constitutional right to seek asylum once they’re in the United States.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Abbott said ending Title 42 is, “unprecedented and is dangerous” because its removal will overwhelm the border. In turn, he announced a response plan which includes these show-of-force exercises.

“Texas will be taking its own unprecedented actions this month to do what no state in America has ever done in the history of this country to better secure our state as well as our nation,” he said.

Texas Public Radio is supported by contributors to the Border and Immigration News Desk, including the Catena Foundation and Texas Mutual Insurance Company.

These are the same drills DPS and the National Guard performed during Operation Steel Curtain last November as part of Abbott’s existing border security initiative, Operation Lone Star, which is set to run out of money within the next month.

Despite a seeming lack of funds, Abbott continues to announce more measures in response to Title 42 ending.

So far, his plans also include boat blockades in the Rio Grande, razor wire installations in low-water crossings and state-funded buses to drop asylum-seekers off at the United States Capitol on a voluntary basis.

Additionally, he promised to announce more measures in the upcoming weeks.

When asked at the press conference where he’d get the money for all of these border security initiatives, Abbott said it’s going to fall on Texans.

“And that's the reality… securing the border does not come cheap,” he said, “But because Joe Biden is not securing the border, the state of Texas is having to step up and spend Texas taxpayer money doing the federal government's job.”

In a letter, the Texas Border Coalition, an organization composed of border community representatives, urged President Biden to invest in technological improvements and legislative change instead of solutions like Title 42.

Cameron County Judge and TBC Chairman Eddie Treviño, Jr wrote, “This moment creates an opportunity for Congress to finally address the fundamental issues and legislate a solution built on the pillars of modernizing immigration and strengthening security.”

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