700 National Guard troops ‘surged’ to El Paso after migrants breached concertina wire

In the days since hundreds of migrants breached the coiled concertina wire along the Rio Grande in El Paso, temporarily overwhelming Texas National Guard troops and crossing into Texas from Mexico outside of international ports of entry, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Friday that he is stationing more Guard soldiers in the state’s largest border city.

Abbott’s announcement contained few specifics about what the governor called a “surge” in enforcement actions at the border. But the Texas Military Department confirmed to the American-Statesman that the surge includes both regular Guard troops and members of a new unit formed to carry out special border operations as part of Operation Lone Star.


The razor wire, meant to deter migrants from crossing into Texas, was breached along the Rio Grande in El Paso on the morning of March 21 amid a whirlwind day of federal court actions over the new Texas law known as Senate Bill 4, which lawmakers passed last year to give the state’s law enforcement officers the power to arrest, detain and deport people suspected of entering the U.S. in Texas from Mexico without legal authorization.

The law remains on hold, by court order, pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by the Biden administration against the state of Texas. A hearing in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is scheduled April 3 where the constitutionality of SB 4 will be contested.

In a post Friday on X, formerly Twitter, Abbott did not mention the lawsuit but did tout Texas’ efforts to stanch the flow of unauthorized crossings at the Rio Grande.

“We continue to reinforce existing border barriers and repel illegal crossings. Texas will hold the line,” Abbott said in the post that included a photo of troops exiting the belly of a Texas Air National Guard transport plane.

In a March 21 report by the El Paso Times, part of the USA TODAY Network, migrants told reporters that Guard troops were pushing them back behind the concertina wire barriers in U.S. territory. That led to skirmishes between migrants and soldiers, the report said.


The Military Department said in its statement that the latest troop deployment to El Paso did not require additional Guard units to be activated. The statement did not address how long the surge was expected to last.

In December, the Army Times cited internal planning documents it obtained to report that the Guard deployments to the Texas border as part of Abbott’s $11 billion Operation Lone Star will continue at least through the 2024 election cycle.

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