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In Big Bend Sector, National Guard Troops Arrive for Training, Assignments

Signs point the way to the Border Patrol's Big Bend Sector headquarters in Marfa, Texas. (Travis Bubenik / KRTS)

As part of President Trump’s call to curb illegal immigration, earlier this month he asked border states to send National Guard troops to the U.S./Mexico border. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott pledged to eventually send 1,400 troops.

In West Texas’s Big Bend sector, guard members arrived on Monday.

National Guard troops started training this week in Marfa, where the Big Bend Sector is headquartered.

The sector will see 50 to 80 national guard troops along the border, mainly serving in support roles. Border Patrol spokesman Rush Carter says the National Guard troops will not be in law enforcement positions or out in the field.

 “They’re going to be helping us in our radio communications room, alongside our folks that are already doing that job," Carter says. "Again, helping with the overall work that goes on in those operations all day.”

Carter says the the troops will also help Border Patrol with mechanical work, monitoring sensors and some intelligence gathering. Most of the guard members deployed to the Big Bend region are from the El Paso guard sector.

After training, they’ll be deployed to stations in Sanderson, Sierra Blanca, Marfa, Alpine and Presidio.

The deployment comes nearly three weeks after President Trump announced his plan to heighten security along the southern U.S border. Some like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott welcomed the move while others were hesitant.

The Governor's office has yet to respond to a question about how many National Guard troops have been deployed to stations along the Texas-Mexico border so far. But on April 12th, Abbott told reporters in Weslaco 762 troops were stationed along the border with plans to increase that number at a rate of 300 per week until 1,400 troops from the state have been sent.

Earlier this month, Ronald D. Vitiello, the Acting Deputy Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, spoke with reporters in El Paso about the deployment. Vitiello said the National Guard would be deployed until there's "operational control" of the border.

"We don't have an end-date in mind," Vitiello said.

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.