MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — More than 100 Texas National Guard members in full riot gear practiced military maneuvers on the banks of the Rio Grande on Thursday in deep South Texas, a day after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced sweeping border security plans due to the end of Title 42.
Wielding batons and wearing shields, the troops formed human chains as they moved together along the thorny brush of the Rio Grande overlooking Reynosa, Mexico, on Thursday afternoon just outside of Anzalduas Park.
They yelled “Move back! Move back!” and practiced swinging their batons and protecting one another. The practice formations are in anticipation of what could be a migrant surge crossing the narrow river, Maj. Mike Perry with the Texas Military Department, which is in charge of the National Guard, said Thursday.
Abbott said Wednesday that troops would begin practicing for “mass migration” surges in five locations along the border, including Del Rio, Eagle Pass, Laredo, Zapata and Anzalduas Park south of the town of Mission, Texas.
“We’re out here in anticipation of Title 42 expiring,” Perry said. “What we’re doing is showing our ability to flex capabilities, manpower and technology to any area in the state of Texas to respond to any mass migration.”
Abbott said there could be 18,000 migrants trying to cross the Southwest border from Mexico daily once Title 42 is lifted on May 23.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced last week that the Centers for Disease Control was lifting the 1940s-era public health law that had been put in place in March 2020 by the Trump administration to help prevent COVID-19 from crossing into the United States.
But migrant advocates say it was an unnecessary law earmarked at preventing migrants from trying to claim asylum on U.S. soil.
The exercises Thursday lasted less than an hour. The troops came in four large transport vehicles and were repeatedly told to hydrate as they practiced in 80-degree temperatures.
Similar exercises were to also begin in Laredo, Zapata, Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Abbott said.