WESLACO, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Texas Military Department (TMD) gave an update on the recent influx of Hattian migrants at Del Rio and the efforts to build a state-funded fence along the U.S.- Mexico border.
Two weeks ago thousands of asylum-seeking migrants from Haiti camped out under the Del Rio international bridge. The number of migrants overwhelmed Customs and Border Protection. The Texas Department of Public Safety sent troopers from the Rio Grande Valley to help as part of the efforts of Operation Lone Star.
Operation Lone Star made it easier for state police agencies and the Texas National Guard to work together to prepare for situations like the one in Del Rio, and to combat drug and human smuggling.
“We have over 1,000 DPS personnel on DPS OLS (Operation Lone Star). With a main focus, right now, on the Del Rio area,” said Victor Escalon, the DPS regional director for the Rio Grande Valley.
DPS troopers being sent to Del Rio took away from their presence in the Valley. Escalon said it was necessary to send troopers because Del Rio is not as equipped as the Valley to deal with a migrant influx.
“So, if something had happened here in the Rio Grande Valley, we’re going to lean on our partners,” Escalon said. “We have a lot of police departments here, we have a lot of infrastructures here.”
In June, Governor Greg Abbott said Texas would build a state border wall to stop migrants from trespassing on private land. TMD Lt. Colonel Rodney Kelley explained that so far three miles of the wall have been built.
All “the land that we’re working on currently is private Texas citizens,” Kelley said.
Kelley added that TMD had not started building fencing in the Rio Grande Valley. TMD has one team of engineers but more are being trained in order to increase construction speed.
He said that DPS analysts were working with TMD to decide where to build border fencing. They’re also “working with the office of the Governor” to “locate and point out the places” that needed the fencing the most.
Once more engineers are trained, Kelley said they will be as “efficient and quick as possible with the infrastructure construction” and hope to build up to a half-mile of a border wall a day.