The governor of Texas announced a new military base camp on the border

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday the state will begin construction on a forward operating base in the border town of Eagle Pass for up to 2,300 troops, creating the most significant military infrastructure to support the state’s efforts to limit the number of people crossing illegally from Mexico.

As Texas deploys National Guard troops and state troopers along the state border starting in 2021, the move to create the 80-acre base camp cements a large law enforcement infrastructure in the region and signals Texas’ commitment to a security role that previously belonged almost exclusively to the federal government.

“This will increase the ability of more Texas Department of Defense personnel in Eagle Pass to operate more efficiently and effectively,” Mr. Abbott said in his announcement, flanked by armed National Guard members. The camp, Mr. Abbott added, “will bring together a large army in a very strategic area.”

Mr Abbott did not say on Friday how much money the government is spending on building the base, but added that the financial impact would be “minimal” given the government’s existing spending on housing those deployed at the border.

The camp, which will include a 700-seat dining hall, gym, laundry and medical services, will save on hotel costs for the existing allotment. And it will likely make way for additional states to send troops to help patrol the border as part of a widening rift between Republican governors and the federal government over border enforcement.

Mr. Abbott tested legal limits on what states can do to enforce immigration law. Several of his Republican cohorts, including the governors of Florida and Georgia, have sent their National Guard troops to help patrol the Texas border, where a record number of migrants have been crossing without permission in recent years.

Republican governors of 25 states they signed a statement in January pledging to stand with Texas in its confrontation with the federal government, which they say has not done enough to enforce existing laws.

Over the past two years, the Abbott administration has engaged in multiple border crackdowns known as Operation Lone Star. The multibillion-dollar initiative includes arresting migrants who touch private property, deploying state police and the National Guard, and using helicopters and other military equipment.

Texas has also transported thousands of migrants out of the state, flooding cities like New York, Denver and Chicago whose leaders have condemned the arrival of thousands of unauthorized migrants without work permits or places to live.

Texas has also added a number of physical barriers along the border, including a series of large orange buoys and boat wire along the Rio Grande. Mr Abbott said on Friday that more would be added.

The state is defending many of these initiatives in court on several fronts.

A federal judge in Austin heard three hours of arguments Thursday on whether to stop a new law, set to take effect March 5, that would allow state and local police officers to directly arrest undocumented immigrants as a prelude to removing them from the country. countries.

The Biden administration claims the law conflicts with federal law and violates the US Constitution, which gives the federal government authority over immigration matters. The state countered that their law mirrors federal law in most respects, but provides a necessary additional deterrent to unauthorized migration.

The federal government is also challenging the state’s installation of a 1,000-foot barrier in the middle of the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass. Attorneys for the federal government said the large orange buoys violated federal navigable rivers law. Late last year, a federal appeals court sided with the Biden administration, ordering Texas to remove the barrier from the river while the case moves forward. Then the larger court panel reversed the order.

A separate case making its way through the court system involves the ability of U.S. Border Patrol agents to cut or remove boat wire that Texas authorities have placed on the banks of the Rio Grande. The federal government says Border Patrol agents must cut the wire to help migrants who may be in danger trying to cross the river.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit last year alleging agents destroyed state property by removing sections of wire.

That legal battle reached the Supreme Court last month, where the justices ruled, without giving reasons, that border agents are allowed to cut or remove the wire as needed while the case is pending in a lower court.

Mr Abbott’s announcement on Friday of the new base camp comes as the number of migrants entering Texas from Mexico has dropped by 50 per cent in the past month. US Customs and Border Protection said it encountered migrants between ports of entry 124,220 times in January, down from more than 249,000 the previous month.

In Eagle Pass, a city that has become the epicenter of immigration wars between the state and federal governments, the number dropped from 6,000 in one day to a handful a day.

But Mr Abbott said on Friday he expected crossings to pick up again this spring.

Guards at the base “will have the ability to build that razor wire barrier faster,” he said, as part of the state’s effort to send a message to migrants that “the wrong place to go is the state of Texas.”

Leave a Comment