Following Gov. Greg Abbott's visit to RGV, Border Patrol talks border security
Following Gov. Greg Abbott's visit to the Rio Grande Valley, U.S. Customs and Border Protection held a press conference Friday to discuss border security.
"The cross border activity is posing serious threats and dangers not just to people in the border region, but people in the state of Texas and in the United States," said Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday during a press conference in Weslaco.
On Thursday, Abbott made it clear that the Texas- Mexico border will have at least 1,400 National Guard troops.
It's a move Border Patrol welcomes.
"We do not have control —let me be very very clear on that— we do a great job as an agency, but at the end of the day, we still have a lot of traffic," said Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Manuel Padilla.
He adds there's an increase in illegal border crossings and says the National Guard troops coming to help secure the southern border is necessary.
"The March that just concluded, we had about 14,100 apprehensions," Padilla said. "If you take this March and you compare it to last March, in March 2017, we had only 4,400 apprehensions. So, there's a huge increase. I mean, way over a 200 percent increase."
The Rio Grande Valley accounts for 53 percent of all apprehensions in the southwest border, which includes Laredo and Del Rio. But apprehensions are not the only thing agents are seeing an increase in.
"We are the home to the busiest marijuana interdicting stations in the whole country," said Padilla. "We are the home to the biggest alien apprehension in the country."
Attacks on agents are also on the rise. Last fiscal year, there was a total of 422 attacks on Border Patrol agents in the RGV alone.
The latest one happened two days ago.
"It is definitely concerning to us," said Padilla.
Many of these attacks have been caused by known gang members. Last year, there was 94 MS-13 gang members apprehended. With only four months in 2018, agents have already stopped 124 MS-13 gang members from crossing the Rio Grande.
"It's our responsibility on behalf of our fellow Americans that we stop those MS-13 gang members before they get across the border," said Gov. Abbott.
However, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez says the numbers do not add up, and says resources could be used elsewhere, such as more jobs in Border Patrol.
Gov. Abbott stated the money for the National Guard troops securing the border is coming from the Department of Defense and would not be able to be used for any other jobs or operations.
In a statement, Gonzalez said, "The reality is that despite our area recently seeing a historic drop in crime and illegal entries, our federal agencies are intentionally misusing information to justify a strategy based in political rhetoric."