AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday that he will send another 1,000 National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border while accusing Congress of failing to take action on the growing humanitarian crisis.
The governor said at an afternoon press conference among Republican leaders and Maj. Gen. Tracy Norris that additional Guard members will assist at new detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley and El Paso and at ports of entry.
It brings the total number of Guard members on the Texas border to more than 2,000, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said. There are also 1,400 active-duty soldiers who remain on the border, according to an Army spokesman.
"My message to them is Congress is a group of reprobates for not addressing a crisis on our border and we're not going to stand idly by and endanger the lives and safety of the state of Texas because Congress is refusing to do its job," Abbott said.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told lawmakers that Homeland Security officials are "thousands" of people short of what they need on the border.
Those troops will help facilitate commercial traffic coming across the border and work in collaboration with Border Patrol, Abbott added. He said the federal government will fully fund the additional Guard deployment.
Texas' top GOP leaders renewed their attacks on Congress after reports that a Texas border facility is neglecting migrant kids. Government facilities are overcrowded, and five immigrant children have died since late last year after being detained by Customs and Border Protection. A teenage mother with a premature baby was found last week in a Texas Border Patrol processing center after being held for nine days by the government.
Abbott's announcement came after House Democrats unveiled a $4.5 billion border measure Friday.
The more than 5,200 active-duty troops being sent by President Donald Trump to the U.S.-Mexico border will be limited in what they can do under a federal law that restricts the military from engaging in law enforcement on American soil.
Democrats in Texas criticized the new deployment as reckless and unnecessary while harming the United States' relationship with allies in Mexico and Central America.
"Deploying more National Guard to the border is a fool's errand and a waste of millions of taxpayer dollars. ... This latest action will not help to alleviate the humanitarian crisis at our southern border," Senate Democratic Leader Jose Rodriguez of El Paso said in a statement.
Texas has used National Guard members on the border since 2014, when then-Gov. Rick Perry also deployed 1,000 Guardsman. Texas has also spent billions of dollars in border security over the last decade, including assigning more state troopers to the southern region.