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National Guard Ground Operations Ramp Up Along U.S.-Mexico Border

Carson Frame / TPR News
The Texas National Guard Armory in Weslaco.

It's been just over a month since President Trump authorized the deployment of National Guard troops to the southwest border. New details about their numbers and activities have emerged.

Officials from the National Guard said Thursday that Texas is in the final phases of deploying ground forces to the border. Around 740 personnel are now working on the ground effort, which can involve surveillance, vehicle maintenance, and vegetation clearing, among other things.

National Guard troops have been distributed between five Texas border sectors, including 200 in the Rio Grande Valley, 120 in Laredo, approximately 90 in Del Rio, approximately 70 in Big Bend, and around 110 in El Paso.

An official from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol said that the National Guard will provide up to 12,000 hours of air interdiction support until the end of September.

Officials from Customs and Border Patrol report that the National Guard has so far assisted in 1,600 border apprehensions, 1,000 pounds of marijuana seizures, and 451 turn-backs, which happen when border patrol agents are alerted to and prevent an illegal entry.

On April 4, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis authorized up to 4,000 personnel to support the border security mission through September.

Carson Frame can be reached at carson@tpr.org or on Twitter @carson_frame

Carson Frame was Texas Public Radio's military and veterans' issues reporter from July 2017 until March 2024.