The vanguard of Texas National Guard troops have arrived on the border, and have begun taking up positions in Hidalgo County, local lawmen tell Newsradio 1200 WOAI.
Deputy J.P. Rodriguez of the Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office tells Newsradio 1200 WOAI that the Guardsmen have taken up observation posts in 'surveillance towers,' which the deputies set up to monitor crowds, and frequently watch over border crossings and Rio Grande travelers.
Eventually 1,000 National Guardsmen will be deployed to the Rio Grande, as part of Operation Strong Safety, which was announced by Gov. Perry last month.
"We are not strangers to this mission," Adjutant General John F. Nichols said. "Our forces will enhance security efforts by amplifying the visible presence on the ground and along the river, working alongside commissioned law enforcement officers to detect and prevent criminals from infiltrating through the international border, and helping to ensure the safety of our fellow Texans."
But the role of the Guard has been questioned. Under Posse Comitatus laws, the military cannot make arrests or enforce civil laws. The Guardsmen will look for suspicious activity and report it to local law enforcement. That has led many to say that the $12 million a month the Guard deployment is costing taxpayers would be better spend beefing up the Sheriff's departments along the border.
Perry says the Guard will be used to bolster law enforcement operations against human smugglers, drug traffickers, and other criminals who might take advantage of the Border Patrol's attention to the surge of Central American children.
But the surge is largely over.
There is also no indication how long the National Guard's mission along the border will last. Money for it has been taken from a special fund designated to improve law enforcement radio systems, and that money will run out in mid October.