The National Guard deployment at the Texas border now has spanned three calendar years and two governors.
When the Guard was activated by then-Gov. Rick Perry on July 21, 2014, it was presented as a stopgap emergency move to prevent drug trafficking amid an influx of children from Central America.
One governor and 18 months later, instead of letting the Guard’s deployment end in December, Abbott has chosen to extend it into 2016.
Guard troops have told reporters they have little to do. Under law, they are monitors but not law enforcement officers, so they spend 12-hour shifts watching the riverbank or assisting law enforcement agencies with operations or logistical needs.
But a new wave of unaccompanied children from Central America is arriving at the border, and there is no end in sight as long as presidential candidates threaten changes in immigration policy.
Abbott’s statement said the Guard is needed to prevent an “uncontrollable crisis” and stop “drug cartels and transnational gang enterprises.”
Border conditions are now part of the national security debate. But Texans deserve to know exactly what the Guard’s role is at the border and how to determine when the mission is complete.