MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says state troopers and Texas National Guard troops are working double-time to fortify the banks of the Rio Grande and practice “mass-migration maneuvers” as the threat of a caravan of migrants coming from Mexico remains.
During a brief talk with news media on Friday south of Mission, Texas, Abbott said the large caravan that started out with upwards of 15,000 migrants appears to be somewhat disbanding, but he said that doesn’t mean that asylum-seekers who are headed north still won’t try to cross into South Texas.
“Some evidence makes it seem as though the caravans are disbanding to some extent,” Abbott said. “But even if the caravans are breaking up it doesn’t mean that the people who are part of the caravans are not going to be trying to make it to the United States of America. It’s just they may be crossing in ones to twos rather than large caravans.”
The reasons for the caravan disbanding are credited to Mexican authorities, weather and a lack of resources by the migrants, many of whom have traveled from Central and South America.
Nevertheless, Abbott said, the State of Texas is prepared if they should try to cross the Rio Grande.
“We shouldn’t have to do it. It should be the Biden administration’s job but because they aren’t doing it, we’ve been working for about a month now to prepare for these caravans coming our way,” said Abbott, whose news conference can be seen on his Facebook page.
Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers “are working on intensified strategies” as part of Operation Lone Star, Abbott said. This includes “mass migration rehearsals” to be prepared to move wherever large groups of migrants come across the river from Mexico, he said.
Since April, Texas National Guard troops have been preparing with riot gear in the Rio Grande Valley and elsewhere for large groups to try to come across. They have also deployed barriers to prevent people from crossing the river.
So far, nearly 40 miles of standard fencing funded by the state has been built along the Texas-Mexico border. And 18 miles of concertina wire has been put up in low-water crossings, said Texas Army National Guard Major Gen. Ronald Burkett II, who accompanied Abbott on his border tour.
Burkett said National Guard troops practice mass-migration exercises with and without DPS and other law enforcement day and night.
Since Operation Lone Star was started in March 2021, there have been 20,000 “turnbacks,” which are migrants who returned to Mexico after they saw state-funded border agents, Abbott said.
Operation Lone Star also has led to more than 263,900 migrant apprehensions and 16,240 criminal arrests, including 13,500 felony charges, the governor’s office says.
More than 5,400 weapons and $41.5 million in currency have been seized.
Abbott said enough fentanyl has been seized to kill every man, woman and child in the United States. Between January and May 2022, the amount of fentanyl seized at the border by Texas law enforcement increased 58% from the same period the year before.
Abbott credited Mexican law enforcement and the governors of several Mexican states who have signed memorandums of understanding and have offered additional resources south of the border to conduct more vehicle inspections and checkpoints.
“They are upholding their end of the bargain in Mexico,” Abbott said.
Nevertheless, the Department of Homeland Security in May reported record numbers of migrants encountered on the Southwest border, the most ever in one month.
Nationwide, border authorities encountered migrants 273,309 times in May, representing a 4 percent increase from the 261,780 migrant encounters in April. March and April were both record-setting months for migrant encounters.