June 24 (UPI) -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the deployment of 1,000 additional National Guard troops to the Mexican border.
They will join 1,000 Texas National Guard troops already at the border to deal with what Abbott said was an "escalating humanitarian crisis." The new troops will assist the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Patrol.
"The crisis at our southern border is unlike anything we've witnessed before and has put an enormous strain on the existing resources we have in place," Abbott said Friday in a statement. "With the deployment of these troops, we are taking action to confront the crisis at the border and keep potentially dangerous criminals and illegal activity out of our communities. By working together with our federal partners, we will continue to pursue a strong and comprehensive strategy to secure our border."
Abbott was critical of the U.S. Congress for failing to overhaul the country's immigration laws and for not dealing with what he referred to as a "humanitarian crisis" at the border.
"It leaves states like Texas fending for themselves," he said. "While we wait for Congress to act, Texas will do all it can to protect its communities and to secure the border."
The announcement came at a press conference where Abbott was joined by Lt. Gov. Patrick and Speaker of the state House Dennis Bonnen. All are Republicans.
The governor's office said that in the past three weeks more than 45,000 individuals from 52 different countries have been apprehended illegally crossing the border into Texas.
DHS holding facilities will be established in the Rio Grande Valley and in the city of El Paso for housing single adults illegally entering the United States. The Texas National Guard will provide "supplemental support" in those locations, as well as at ports of entry, the statement added. The mission was described as "short term," and will be underwritten by federal funding.
Gilberto Hinojosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, joined other Democrats in criticizing the new deployment and the Trump administration for its handling of events at the border.
"Deploying 1,000 new troops to the border is reckless, unnecessary, and further serves to harm our relationships with our strategic allies in Central America and Mexico," Hinojosa said in calling for immigration reform. "Trump, Abbott, Patrick, and Texas Republicans continue to demonize our border communities with their actions and rhetoric while pushing forth policies that will upend our border families' entire way of life. Deploying new troops to the border solves nothing."
Rep. Rafael Anechia, a Democrat in the Texas House and member of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus of House members, said in a statement that he welcomed "a shift that recognizes a need for humanitarian assistance," but added, "Last summer, we saw the Trump Administration open a 'tent city' in an attempt to circumvent the care provided to migrant children in their custody. We will not accept a repeat."