AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas National Guard is set to more than double the number of troops at the Texas-Mexico border in October. Around 2,500 service members will be stationed at the border under the direction of Gov. Greg Abbott.
Tracy Norris, the adjutant general of the Texas Military Department and commander of the Texas National Guard, told KVUE that Abbott’s mission is to stop illegal drugs, illegal immigration and illegal human trafficking.
“It will assist their situation,” Norris said. “More resources to the border, especially based on what’s happened in the last couple of weeks.”
Norris said the Texas National Guard will also work to build a fence along the border.
"That wall will give you time to react because that's what it's about: it is about figuring out where people are trying to get across," Norris said. "If you slow them down and you can detect them with technology, then you have less people, but you can react a lot quicker to wherever they're trying to get across."
One of those people already on the border is Specialist Juan De La Riva. De La Riva has been a soldier in the Texas National Guard for about four years. He's been part of Operation Lone Star for the past three weeks.
"Regardless of how the picture is painted, you know, we're there, we're there to support. We're Texans serving Texans," De La Riva said.
De La Riva is an intelligence analyst who grew up in Cedar Park. Even with his family more than 300 miles away, he joined Operation Lone Star to help protect them.
"We're talking about, you know, weapons. We're talking about drugs," De La Riva said. "As a family, I have [five] siblings, both older and younger. It's not something that I want my, you know, my siblings, or if even if I had children, to be exposed to."
In September, an estimated 17,000 migrants from Haiti gathered at the Del Rio International Bridge. The migrants were trying to cross the border and seek asylum in the U.S.
“I’ve never seen the border like this,” Norris said. “I’ve been in Texas since 2001. The Texas National Guard has gone down to the border in support of federal and state agencies at different times, and I’ve visited since I was probably a major. I’ve never seen the border like this before.”
Abbott is also working with the Texas Department of Public Safety to secure the border. Norris said the Guard is “strictly in a Texas status” to support DPS.
“We love Texas,” Norris said. “We want to protect our Texans and their property, and that’s why when we call, the soldiers will come and go do the mission. And that’s what we’re doing right now with our surge of forces to the border.”
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