Abbott orders Texas National Guard to assist with border arrests

Gov. Greg Abbott has ordered the Texas National Guard to assist the Texas Department of Public Safety with arrests at the Texas-Mexico border.

Abbott announced in June that those who commit criminal trespass or other state offenses will be subject to arrest and confinement. Abbott's office says today's order builds upon the governor's disaster declaration directing DPS to enforce all federal and state criminal laws at the border, including criminal trespassing, smuggling and human trafficking.

The letter addressed to Mjr. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, adjutant general of the Texas Military Department reads:

"Beginning on May 31, 2021, I have issued multiple proclamations certifying under Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code that the surge of individuals unlawfully crossing the Texas-Mexico border poses an ongoing and imminent threat of disaster for certain counties and agencies in the State of Texas. To respond to this disaster and secure the rule of law at our Southern border, more manpower is needed—in addition to the troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and soldiers from the Texas National Guard I have already deployed there—and DPS needs help in arresting those who are violating state law. 

"As "Commander-in-Chief of the military forces of the State" under Article IV, Section 7 of the Texas Constitution, the governor can "call forth the militia to execute the laws of the State." Section 431.111 of the Texas Government Code likewise recognizes that the governor can call on state military forces "to enforce state law" and "to assist civil authorities in guarding [or]
conveying prisoners." And Section 437.002 of the Texas Government Code recognizes that "[t]he governor has full control and authority over all matters relating to the Texas military forces."

"By virtue of the power and authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the State of Texas, I hereby order that the Texas National Guard assist DPS in enforcing Texas law by arresting lawbreakers at the border."

Abbott joined former President Donald Trump at the southern border last month, inviting Trump to see the stalled construction project that was a major initiative under the previous presidential administration. 

Speaking to a crowd of Republican supporters in front of an unfinished section of the wall near McAllen, Abbott and Trump sharply criticized the Biden administration over its handling of immigration and the border.

Gov. Abbott has blamed what he called the Biden administration’s "open border" policy for the recent surge in migrants coming across the border. Officials say crossings in the Rio Grande Sector—where the visit was held—are up 300%. Abbott said that underscores why Biden needs to finish the wall.

Abbott also recently held a border security briefing with sheriffs from border communities at the Texas State Capitol. Sheriffs at the briefing told Abbott some of their needs included more manpower, more jail space, and more judges. The governor says he hopes to get approval during the special session for funding to send to border communities.

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