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El Paso (United States) (AFP) – Texas will send more than 1,000 National Guard troops to the US-Mexico border, in response to President Donald Trump’s call for the military deployment to the southern frontier, the state announced Tuesday.
An initial 250 Texas military personnel were sent to the border over the weekend. The Texas Military Department said the initial deployment was command and planning staff, along with support aircraft, vehicles and other equipment.
The department announced Tuesday it would activate 300 reserve troops this week, and each of the following weeks, for a total of more than 1,000 troops.
“The number of people coming across the border has increased more than 200 percent over this time last year,” Governor Greg Abbott said in a statement.
“The addition of National Guard on the border has proven to have a meaningful impact to reduce the flow of people and illegal activities coming across the border.”
Texas already had approximately 100 troops at the border prior to Trump’s request. They were first activated in 2014 and have been serving in an “observe and support” role, officials said.
The additional troops will be tasked with assisting border patrol agents by carrying out surveillance, communications, and other tasks.
The US Defense Department last week signed an order calling for as many as 4,000 National Guard personnel to assist at the southern border.
National Guard troops are normally commanded by governors.
The border state of Arizona has also responded to the federal request, deploying 225 members of its Guard on Monday.
The defense department said the troops would not carry out law enforcement activities without federal approval and would be armed for self-defense when necessary.
Trump has indicated he might keep troops at the border until his promised border wall is built.
The deployment has heightened tensions with Mexico, whose President Enrique Pena Nieto on Monday ordered a review of its bi-lateral cooperation with the US.
The National Guard has previously been deployed to help patrol the southern border, including in 2010 under former president Barack Obama, and from 2006-2008 under George W. Bush.
Both deployments were limited to around a year.
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