National Security

Caravan for Caravan — Trump Admin. Roadblocks Migrant Flow at Texas Border

For Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers, the call came a few days ago: Pack and prepare to ship out to Eagle Pass, Texas, where portions of the U.S.-Mexico border are not necessarily barriered. Via the Trump administration, the Pentagon was given the greenlight to send about 250 military troops to work in tandem with federal, state and local law enforcement officers in Texas. This particular junction is split by the Rio Grande River, thus engendering U.S. border security personnel to shore up any illegal crossing attempts by the roughly 2,000 migrants who arrived on the river’s Mexico side early last week.

According to Texas law enforcement officials, the orders for our side to be blocked by a vehicle caravan are reportedly open-ended, with no definitive stand-down date as of yet. However, the Department of Defense has projected military personnel remaining in border positions until September 2019.

A brother policeman, Jerry Zamora, is among the Texas state trooper contingency and narrated the call-out this way: “Wave # 1 Securing the Texas Border. Answering the call of duty to protect and serve the Citizens of Texas. As Texas Troopers, we can be called upon any time day or night, to leave our homes to provide support, to protect, or anything that is asked of us anywhere within our State. We are Texas Rapid Response Team. Last night [Feb. 4] we received the call, within hours we arrived in Eagle Pass, Texas.”

Texas Department of Public Safety troopers fuel up before heading to the Eagle Pass border crossing in Texas, where the latest migrant caravan is reportedly destined. Scores of state police, federal agents, active-duty military and National Guard troops are serving as a dragnet at Eagle Pass. (Credit: Trooper Jerry Zamora/Texas Department of Public Safety)

The cadre of border security personnel are charged with zippering up the seam abutting Eagle Pass, Texas and Piedras Negras, Mexico where, according to Trooper Zamora, Sunday morning’s temp dipped to the low-30s. From what I could gather, assigned border security personnel are holed up in their respective cruisers and telegraphing a show of force by the mere presence of their wall of official-looking government vehicles. Mobile walls? Whatever works, and I suspect that is what President Trump and officials heading the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) blueprinted in a pinch, in the face of diminished congressional cooperation.

“To me, it’s like showing force. It would give a message to the immigrants that want to come illegally through Texas that Texas is always prepared and have a lot of manpower at the border — that they would go to another state,” Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber offered the Washington Examiner. I wonder if he is somehow referring to New Mexico and its vulnerable southern border.

Ordinarily we see police roadblocks in Hollywood movies, the ones capitalizing on action-packed, suspenseful moments leading to the bad guy smashing his way through a cluster of cop cars and getting away scot-free. This is Texas, not Hollywood. This is a real situation, not a scripted piece of entertainment to make the police look Keystone-ish. This is not the first caravan to traverse other countries in order to settle in ours. It is likely not the last…unless a perm border wall is finally erected. (Stay tuned for the next border-wall showdown…or shutdown.)

As mentioned above, the Trump administration fostered this operation despite the ongoing rumble with most of the Democratic Party refusing to allocate funds for a permanent border wall (or barrier). Not one to sit around, cross fingers, and wait without contingency plans, the president rightfully has his hands on the national security joysticks and launched this undertaking to at least plug one hole where throngs of migrants on the other side want to push through. It also sends a message to migrants, as former U.S. Border Patrol agent and current Maverick County Sheriff Schmerber mentioned. Hundreds of law enforcement, active-duty soldiers and National Guard troops are unified at the Eagle Pass stretch (said to be approximately one mile long) so that no one with nefarious intent gets to pass their eagle eyes and walk onto American soil unvetted.

Allocation roles released by the DoD tip 2,300 active-duty soldiers taking positions in Arizona, California and Texas. Further, Defense officials revealed another wave totaling 3,750 military troops (also mentioned by President Trump in his SOTU address) are gearing up for deployment this week, bolstering the troops and cops already safeguarding vulnerable border-crossing posts.

According to Sheriff Schmerber, there are roughly 500 state police personnel from the Texas DPS who joined significant numbers of U.S. Border Patrol agents, Homeland Security personnel, and local law enforcement officers, all complimented by active-duty soldiers and a group from Texas National Guard.

Per a report in Stars and Stripes, Pentagon spokesman Captain Bill Speaks said, “The personnel [from Arizona] repositioned in Texas includes military police and medical personnel, as well as engineers who will support hardening of these ports of entry.” Soldiers have been busy stringing rows of concertina wire atop fences.

DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called the Eagle Pass caravan crew “lawless” and went on to state the following in a February 5th Homeland Security press release: “Such caravans are the result of Congress’s inexcusable failure to fully fund a needed physical barrier and unwillingness to fix outdated laws that act as an enormous magnet for illegal aliens. This crisis won’t be solved until we have comprehensive border security. Until then, DHS will do everything in its power  with the assistance of federal and state partners  to hold smugglers and traffickers accountable, enforce our laws, and keep American communities safe.”

That young lady possesses some major moxie, brilliance, convictions, composure, and perseverance , giving her boss Donald Trump a decent challenge. No wonder at all why he brought her into the fold.

Department of Homeland Security sources acknowledge a few arrests of migrants who decided to test the waters and U.S. personnel by crossing the river-border area through midnight hours, to no avail. The number of caravan members doing so is low, though.

Secretary Nielsen cited some strong words that, albeit profoundly biased, I am delighted to read. She offered: “DHS will take all steps to ensure the safety and security of law enforcement personnel on the frontlines.” I believe her promises and convictions regarding national security. She wrote/published those words while our brothers/sisters with the Texas DPS were sliding into positions and linking their law enforcement-marked vehicles into formidable formation, signaling Don’t even try it! to the 2,000 or so taking notice from across the Rio Grande.

Of the few who did try it and almost drowned, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents saved a family of five Honduran nationals from sinking under the Rio Grande River waters in Eagle Pass. Good thing our agents were there.

Although I didn’t see/hear it covered much (if at all), Secretary Nielsen at the State of the Union address stood with unmistakable pride when President Trump made declarations regarding immigration woes leading to national security casualties. Nielsen’s jaw tightened (fighting back tears), she swallowed hard…her gullet moved in slo-mo fashion (tasting the fruits of her labor), her eyes glossed (respect for being a part of something bigger than herself), and she stole a glance or two to realize she was in good company (mostly) and others cheering. She didn’t necessarily peer over to/at the Left; she instead focused on the message. Routinely, Nielsen does that, even when being scolded at House hearings, she is attuned to speakers and deliberate in her responses. Perfect for the Homeland Security job.

So, Jerry, what’s the story? Well, as of press time, Trooper Zamora reported zero border-crossings where he is posted and that the mobile wall seems to be a strong-enough visible deterrent. Bless those on our frontlines.

Today, President Trump is scheduled to attend a rally in El Paso, Texas, some 485 miles from Eagle Pass, to give a speech on our ongoing efforts to stem the tide of “mass immigration through the southern border of the United States.”

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is an OpsLens Content Manager and Contributor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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