Fort Bliss Troops Help in Border Patrol Support Role
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Active-duty soldiers were deployed this week from Fort Bliss to assist the Border Patrol in Arizona and New Mexico, officials said Thursday.
Customs and Border Protection officials said the soldiers will function in a support role only.
Although the Joint Task Force-North/Northern Command generally handles such deployments, JTF-North spokesman Armando Carrasco said the Border Patrol alone was authorized to release details on what unit is involved and what the soldiers will do on the border.
Border Patrol officials in the Tucson sector were unavailable for comment late Thursday.
Last year, Arizona sued the federal government for allegedly “failing to gain operational control of the border,” according to a statement by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s office.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson both asked for military support because of the threats posed by drug cartels, which are armed with military-grade weapons and equipment.
U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said he does not agree with using the military to do the work of civilian law enforcement.
“I continue to strongly oppose the use of our troops in a law enforcement role on our nation’s borders,” Reyes said. “Our nation’s borders must be patrolled by men and women who have been fully trained for that mission, and we must not limit our focus to border areas between the ports of entry. Rebuilding and improving our land ports of entry is critical to the efficient flow of people and legal goods between the United States and Mexico.
Critics of such troop deployments point to the 1997 incident in which an 18-year-old student from Redford, Texas, was shot and killed.
A Marine assigned to the then JT-6 fatally shot the teenager who carried a .22-caliber rifle and who was guarding a small herd of goats.
After the shooting, the military suspended its operations in the Border Patrol’s Marfa, Texas, sector. The Marine involved in the incident was exonerated, and the deceased boy’s family sued the federal government and received a settlement.
Here is more information about the shooting of that teenager.
Esequiel Hernández Jr (May 14, 1979 - May 20, 1997) was an 18-year-old American high school student killed on May 20, 1997 by United States Marines in Redford, Texas, located approximately one mile from the United States–Mexico border. Hernández was the first American civilian to be killed by active United States Armed Forces while they were on duty since the student massacre at Kent State University in 1970 and led to Defense Secretary William Cohen issuing a temporary suspension of troop patrols near the U.S.–Mexico border