Texas National Guard troops deployed to the southern border have apprehended over 2,600 illegal migrants since last Wednesday, according to figures provided to Daily Caller News Foundation.
The troops are stationed at the border as part of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott’s “Operation Lone Star,” which has mobilized state assets to counter illegal activity.
Texas National Guard border public affairs officer Major Mike Perry told the DCNF that the Texas National Guard “is getting a lot of apprehensions right now.”
Operation Lone Star is a coordinated effort between DPS' air, ground, marine and tactical assets to ensure we are able to accomplish this vital mission set forth by Gov. . Together, with our partners at , we are working hard every day to protect Texas.
— Texas DPS
Since Dec. 1, the operation by Texas National Guard at the border has resulted in the apprehensions and referrals of 2,618 illegal migrants. The guard has apprehended and referred around 87,000 illegal migrants in total since March.
Perry told the DCNF that in recent weeks the guard has seen an uptick in “runners and turnbacks” attempting to evade apprehension. There was a total of 696 “turnbacks,” meaning illegal migrants attempting to evade apprehension, from Dec. 1 to Dec. 8. Since March, the operation has seen over 7,000.
Typically “turnbacks” are individuals walking, swimming, or on a raft that will turn around when they see troops stationed at the border, Perry explained, adding that the individuals are usually part of illegal smuggling operations.
“They’re going to find the easiest way to get past us, but the issue for them is there’s a tremendous amount of us down here now,” Perry said.
“We saw the sharp increase really quickly. We’re going to see it this week on the turnbacks,” he said.
Abbott ordered Guard troops to help state and local officials detain and arrest illegal migrants in late July.
“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’s letter said.
The previous month, Abbott said during a summit to discuss border security that any migrants who criminally trespass into Texas or commit other offenses would be subject to arrest and jailed.
In addition, the GOP governor announced plans to build new sections of border wall so as to plug gaps left when President Joe Biden canceled federal wall construction begun under the Trump administration.
In explaining why National Guard members should be empowered to make arrests, Abbott said in his letter that “more manpower is needed” in order to deal with the crush of migrants crossing illegally by the tens of thousands each month into Texas.
In addition, Abbott argued that according to the Texas constitution, his powers as “Commander-in-Chief of the military forces” of the state give him the authority to issue the order.
It also “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,’” said the letter.
“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 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,” Abbott noted in his letter.
The Daily Caller News Foundation contributed to this report.