Nebraska governor sending soldiers to US border with Mexico

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Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) announced Monday the state will send about 60 state Army National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas to assist Texas’s border security effort Operation Lone Star.

“This mission is critical to the security of Nebraska as well as other states,” Pillen said in a press release. “We need to maintain the safety of our citizenry and stem the ongoing influx of illegal drugs, weapons and criminals into our borders.”

Operation Lone Star is Texas’s $2 billion-per-year program to limit migrant crossings into the U.S. from Mexico. It includes an increase in border patrol law enforcement and building new infrastructure, such as buoys in the middle of the Rio Grande River to prevent people from swimming across.

The Nebraska troops will provide “additional observation and reporting near the border” for about a month, Pillen said. The state previously sent 10 state troopers to Texas in May to operate observation drones for about two weeks.

“President Biden’s border policies have been ineffective, requiring that states join together to help manage this issue,” the Nebraska governor added. “Failure to do so only opens the door to threats that we can’t fully recognize yet.”

A Nebraska guard spokesman told the Omaha World-Herald the troops will not be deputized and will not assist with direct law enforcement activity.

Operation Lone Star has been criticized by Democrats and migrant advocates because some say it creates dangerous conditions for those wishing to enter the U.S.

Last month, the program came under fire after it was alleged that Texas Department of Public Safety workers were told not to give migrants water, and in some cases to push them into the Rio Grande River to prevent them from making it to land in the U.S.

Texas DPS officials denied that the order to withhold water was given. Still, the reports resulted in a federal investigation.

The Rio Grande River buoys have also prompted a lawsuit by the Justice Department for allegedly violating federal law. The floating barrier was also criticized by Mexican officials who claimed they violate international treaties.

The buoys and additional border measures, such as razor wire, make it more dangerous and more likely that people will be injured or die when crossing, critics say. In the last month, at least four people have drowned in the Rio Grande River where the buoys are now in place.

Border security has been a high priority of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in recent years. The program has so far been effective, resulting in the capture of 422 million lethal doses of fentanyl so far this year, he said last month.

According to data released by Pillen, the operation has apprehended nearly 25,000 migrants since May, including almost 4,000 criminal arrests.

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