By Lorenz Duchamps
Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen announced on July 31 that more than 60 Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers will be deployed to the U.S.–Mexico border in Texas to support Operation Lone Star.
Mr. Pillen said in a press release that the troops will assist with securing the state’s border with Mexico for around four weeks, departing Nebraska on Aug. 2 and returning home in early September.
While in Texas, the group of soldiers will provide “additional observation and reporting near the border,” the Republican governor said, adding that this immediate assistance will aid the agencies that are currently in the area conducting security and law enforcement efforts.
“This mission is critical to the security of Nebraska as well as other states,” Mr. Pillen said. “We need to maintain the safety of our citizenry and stem the ongoing influx of illegal drugs, weapons, and criminals into our borders.”
“President [Joe] Biden’s border policies have been ineffective, requiring that states join together to help manage this issue,” he continued. “Failure to do so only opens the door to threats that we can’t fully recognize yet.”
The announcement comes months after Mr. Pillen joined other Republican governors in a security briefing hosted by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in May, which resulted in Mr. Pillen sending 10 Nebraska State Patrol troopers to support operations to secure the southern border.
Brig. Gen. Craig Strong, adjutant general of the Nebraska Military Department that includes the Army National Guard, said the state’s National Guard is always ready to help fellow Americans in need of assistance.
“Whether the emergency is here within our state, within our nation’s borders, or overseas, I am confident that our men and women will make a positive impact serving in support of Operation Lone Star,” Brig. Gen. Strong said.
Operation Lone Star
In response to the burgeoning crisis at the southern border, Mr. Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021 as a combined effort of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas National Guard. Many red states have since deployed air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets to high-threat areas along the Texas border.
Last month, Mr. Abbott provided data showing the state’s effort to limit the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into the United States under the joint operation, which has appeared to have borne fruit.
A little more than two years since the start of the border security initiative, Mr. Abbott announced in a press release on July 28 that the multi-agency effort has led to more than 397,900 apprehensions of illegal immigrants and more than 31,800 criminal arrests, with reports of more than 29,300 felony charges brought.
In the fight against deadly drugs such as fentanyl pouring into the United States, Texas law enforcement has seized more than 422 million lethal doses of fentanyl during the border mission, according to the release.
Meanwhile, Mr. Abbott has defended Texas’s right to secure the border through the recent deployment of floating marine barriers in a letter (pdf) to Biden after his administration threatened to sue the state of Texas unless it removes the floating barriers recently set up in the middle of the Rio Grande River to keep out illegal immigrants.
“Texas will see you in court, Mr. President,” the Republican governor wrote, arguing the Democrat incumbent is putting illegal immigrants at risk owing to his open-border policies as well as not putting in more effort to deter them from making the journey to the United States in the first place.
“While I share the humanitarian concerns noted in your lawyers’ letter, Mr. President, your finger points in the wrong direction. Neither of us wants to see another death in the Rio Grande River. Yet your open-border policies encourage migrants to risk their lives by crossing illegally through the water, instead of safely and legally at a port of entry. Nobody drowns on a bridge,” Mr. Abbott wrote.
The lawsuit is not the first time the Biden administration has sued Texas over its actions on the border.
In 2021, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland accused the state of usurping and even interfering with the federal government’s responsibility to enforce immigration laws after Mr. Abbott empowered state troopers’ orders to stop vehicles carrying illegal immigrants on the basis that they could increase the spread of COVID-19.
Illegal Immigrant Encounters Dropped
Meanwhile, total encounters with illegal immigrants along the southwest border dropped in June to the lowest level in more than two years, decreasing nearly a third from the previous month, according to the latest data provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) last month.
Total encounters, including those who presented at ports of entry with or without a CBP One appointment, were 144,607, marking a 30 percent decrease from the previous month, and representing the lowest monthly number since February 2021.
The agency attributed the decline to enforcing consequences under Title 8 authorities and expanding lawful pathways and processes, it said in a July 18 statement. CBP also reported that its drug interdiction efforts have resulted in a significant increase in narcotics confiscations.
The U.S. Border Patrol recorded 99,545 encounters between ports of entry, representing a 42 percent decrease from May.
Savannah Hulsey Pointer contributed to this report.
From NTD News