EAGLE PASS, Texas – Since the expiration of Title 42 in May of this year, Texas National Guard Soldiers have vastly changed operations. Texas Guard engineers physically altered the landscape to enable Guardsmen to carry out the mission more successfully. Also, additional National Guardsmen from other states have enabled nearly round-the-clock operations.
The engineers from Special Reaction Teams 2 and 3 were able to complete Operation Alcatraz, an operation that cleared dense brush from the edge of the Rio Grande River where illegal migrants used the bamboo and brambles to evade capture. The operation also included a more robust barrier of concertina wire the entire length of the area more than eight miles long.
The heavy foliage near the river presented a hazard to those trying to enter Texas illegally, as they get tangled in the dense brush, and to the Guardsmen who patrol the area. Removing the foliage using heavy equipment has removed the hazard for all.
“So far, everything is moving along smoothly,” 1st Lt. Luis Cuellar said. “We’ve had some equipment go down, but thankfully we have Texas Department of Public Safety working with us to get maintenance out here, helping get all our equipment back up and running. My guys are out here 7 days a week working on not only Alcatraz, but everything going on at the Eagle Pass Port of Entry.”
The overall appearance has changed in Eagle Pass, and operations have changed as well. A continuous united presence with Soldiers and law enforcement partners from Texas DPS and other states run 24-hour operations, taking up points along the river to prevent, deter, and interdict criminal trespassers.
“We have seen apprehension numbers go down, yet greatly increased the number of turn backs that we are getting,” Maj. Michael Riley, the Operations Officer for Task Force Eagle said. “A turn back is when someone attempts to cross into the US illegally and then realizes that they don’t have easy access to cross and return to Mexico.”