Abbott is spending $2 billion on involuntary deployment of the National Guard — to protect the wealthiest ranches

Abbott is spending $2 billion on involuntary deployment of the National Guard — to protect the wealthiest ranches
Greg Abbott by Gage Skidmore, CC

Governor Greg Abbott‘s use of the Texas National Guard to protect “some of the wealthiest private ranches” as a part of his $2 billion a year border security mission is being blasted – by some of the very service members ordered to stand guard “outside ranches with wealthy or politically connected owners.”

“We really don’t understand why we are there,” one service member told The Texas Tribune. “We’re essentially mall security for ranches that already have paid security details to protect them.”

The Texas Tribune’s investigation into the program reveals the National Guard members deployed to protect those wealthy ranches “have widely decried the mission as aimless, political and oversized.” It reportedly was stopped last month after the Tribune started its investigation – and started filing document requests.

“Earlier this year,” in one example, “about 30 Texas National Guard members were ordered to stand watch outside some of the most prestigious private ranches in South Texas, more than an hour’s drive away from the Mexico border, as part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s highly touted mission to curb illegal immigration,” the Tribune reports.

Included among those wealthy ranches being protected are “the sprawling and renowned King Ranch and the GOP-connected Armstrong Ranch.”

The Armstrong Ranch is “the property of a longtime Republican family that has hosted GOP leaders like Karl Rove, former Gov. Rick Perry and former Vice President Dick Cheney,” who made it infamous when, as Vice President, he shot his host, accidentally, in the face.

Overall, Abbott has deployed 10,000 troops for his wider “border security mission,” named “Operation Lone Star.” Many of them “have said they were not given a clear task or adequate training, equipment or lodging.”

These are not voluntary deployments nor are they full-time service members who would be performing regular duties anyway and just happened to get sent elsewhere.

“Abbott kicked off Operation Lone Star last March and ramped up its scale in September, leading to involuntary deployments with only a few days notice for part-time troops who have civilian jobs, lives and families.”

Should anyone think the presence of the National Guard is a good idea or necessary to nab migrants crossing the border, not only were many stationed 80 miles from the border, but they do not have legal authority to cross into the private land they reportedly are protecting to make arrests.

Another Guard member says it looks “crazy” to have them protecting rich ranchers.

“These ranchers have enough money to do private security or have private security guard these gates,” the Guardsman told the Tribune. “The optics are just kind of crazy.”


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