Defense Ramps Up as Border Crossings Soar in Texas Amid State of Emergency


The Department of Defense is escalating its measures at the US-Mexico border in response to a mounting influx of border crossings in places like Eagle Pass, Texas, prompting the town’s mayor to declare a state of emergency. An additional 800 active-duty personnel have been dispatched to the border where 2,500 National Guards are already at work, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed.

The timing of the move coincides with a surge in migrant crossings along that border, with over 8,600 entries in the last 24 hours alone. This is a significant uptick from the approximately 3,500 daily arrests recorded following the termination of Title 42 in May which led to new consequences for illegal border crossings. On Monday alone, more than 8,000 apprehensions took place.

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High-traffic sectors currently experiencing over 1,000 encounters in the last 24 hours include Del Rio, El Paso, Lower Rio Grande Valley, and Tucson. The town of Eagle Pass falls within the Del Rio sector.

Amidst the surge, tragic incidents have unfolded. The lifeless body of a man, presumed to be a migrant, was discovered by Texas Department of Public Safety and the Maverick County Sheriff’s Office near Eagle Pass. In another heartbreaking incident, a three-year-old boy lost his life while his family attempted to cross the Rio Grande near the same site.

The sharp rise in border crossings in recent weeks has placed considerable strain on federal resources and further overwhelmed existing facilities. The precise causes prompting the intensified surge remain unclear, but authorities point to misinformation from smugglers, economic instability, authoritarian regimes, and the climate crisis as factors contributing to migration.

Migrants embark on these dangerous journeys with the hope of finding safer, better lives. Reasons behind these migrations are varied, with some escaping violence, others seeking economic prospects, and many wishing to reconnect with family members. The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated conditions in Latin America, propelling the migrant influx.

Since President Joe Biden’s inauguration, additional temporary structures similar to tent complexes have been erected to manage the surge, however, these facilities are not equipped to provide sustained care. In fact, around 3,000 migrants crossed into the US near Eagle Pass on Wednesday alone. The sheer numbers are causing some towns, like Eagle Pass, to be unable to accommodate the influx, prompting calls for measures to curb the surge.

Amidst these challenges, the Biden administration contends with the increasing arrival of Venezuelans at the US southern border, a dilemma considering the frosty relations with Venezuela. The situation in Eagle Pass has drawn attention, with Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr. stating that they are “abandoned” and asking for help, declaring it unacceptable for them to confront such a crisis.

On the other side of the border, a group of approximately 100 Venezuelan migrants refused to return to Mexico due to its dangerous conditions after being halted by concertina wire on their path.

Though the influx is severe, US Customs and Border Protection in Eagle Pass are trying to process the influx of migrants in an orderly manner. They warn, however, of potential punishments for unlawful entries, including expedited removals and penalties under the Title 8 process.

The military support for the border mission is not unusual, primarily providing non-enforcement backing to the DHS. The 90-day deployment of the extra personnel, focusing on detection, monitoring, analysis, transportation, and supply chain support, aligns with the DHS’s routine military aid.

The expiration of Title 42 in May saw an alarming increase in the number of people daily encountered by US Customs and Border Protection and a swell in the number of migrants in custody. The current measure is intended to address the continued influx.