Texas building new border fortifications in illegal entry fight

(The Center Square) – Texas is building a new military base camp at the border to continue its efforts to block illegal entry from Mexico.

Gov. Greg Abbott made the announcement on Friday in Eagle Pass, Texas, with Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard Major General Thomas Suelzer and border czar Mike Banks.

The “Forward Operating Base” camp will house 1,800 troops with the ability to expand up to 2,300 if needed. It will have amenities soldiers haven’t had before on tours to the border because they’ve “been scattered across this entire region in cramped quarters away from fellow soldiers and guards, sometimes traveling long distances to be able to do their job,” Abbott said.

The new camp will “dramatically improve” their living conditions, which “were atypical for military operations.”

Because Texas is expanding border security operations, “because of the magnitude of what we’re doing,” he said it was essential to build a base camp “to improve the quality of life and … sustain a very strong morale for our soldiers.”

Military forces will be consolidated; “Texas is amassing a large army in a very strategic area” to increase the speed and flexibility of soldiers’ ability to respond to illegal activity. Soldiers will also be expanding razor wire barriers, which have been an effective tool to block illegal entry, he said. “Our goal is to make sure that we expand the effectiveness of that razor wire to more areas along this border.”

Some soldiers have been staying in facilities that are roughly 50 miles away, driving an hour commute each way. Reducing their commute time will enable them to better use of their time and taxpayer resources, the governor said. The cost of the base camp is minimal; after the build out, costs will be reduced since the state won’t be paying for hotels or other accommodations to house soldiers.

Gov. Abbott reiterated what he and Banks have said before: Texas’ resistance has reduced illegal border crossings, pushing them west, The Center Square has reported.

“Illegal border crossings are down, and coincidentally, razor wire barrier is up,” Abbott said. Texas is doing the job that Congress mandated, for barriers to be built on the border, he said. The president hasn’t built them, he said, but Texas is.

Major General Suelzer said the base is being built on an 80-acre complex that extends along the Rio Grande River and is situated roughly six miles south of Shelby Park in Eagle Pass. Each soldier will have their own individual rooms of up to 1800 square feet. The camp will also hold “a surge capability for an additional 500 troops should we need to deploy the Texas tactical border force to this area we can deploy in-house that right here on the border in support of our troops,” he said.

The base will hold a 700-seat dining facility, a weight and cardio center, a recreational center, have computers and WiFi, a laundry facility, and areas for medical, psychological, health, and chaplaincy programs. The base will have three command posts, weapons storage rooms, vehicle maintenance bays, and an FAA regulation helipad.

The Texas Military Department is also expanding under the governor’s orders, Suelzer said. In the coming weeks, they will be executing a four-phase operation to expand north and south of Eagle Pass, putting up additional barriers in order to fortify the border. They will also be adding three fan boats and expanding their drone program, he said.

Border Czar Banks said what the National Guard has done in the year that he’s been working with them is “phenomenal.”

“If you would have told me that Texas was going to be able to achieve what they’ve achieved just in the last year alone I wouldn’t have believed it.” He pointed to the CBP Arizona Tucson Sector that is being inundated with illegal border crossings. He said that every day for the last month and a half, agents have apprehended more people than those being apprehended in the entire state of Texas.

Eagle Pass used to have 3,000 to 5,000 people illegally crossing a day, even over 6,000 at one point, he said, which has now dropped to an average of three people since the Texas Military Department shut down Shelby Park in December. Banks said they decreased illegal border crossings to “1 percent of what was crossing a month and a half, two months ago. It’s a testament of what these soldiers are doing ,what DPS is doing, and achieving what the governor has set out for us to achieve.”

He said future operations will expand on their successful efforts in Eagle Pass, doing “what’s called, ‘gain, maintain and expand.’ We’ve gained control of this area. Now we’re going to maintain that control as we can continue to expand those operations to bring that same level of reduction across the border in the state of Texas.”

He also said, as a retired Border Patrol agent of 23 years, “it’s just absolutely absurd to believe that we have to fight the federal government daily.” He said the Biden administration should “either do the job that you’ve been mandated by Congress to do … or just get out of the way and let us get it done because Texas is going to protect Texas.”