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Former sector chief says troops on border not solution

“Texas will not be victimized.”

Those are the words of Republican Gov. Greg Abbott as he announced National Guard troops will remain at the state’s border with Mexico longer than expected.

The governor did not say how much longer the deployment would last. His announcement comes after the release of a report stating more than 10,000 children — mostly from Central America — crossed into the U.S. illegally in October and November.

“Texas will not sit idle in the face of this challenge,” Abbott said. “We will not be victimized as a state by a federal government’s apathetic response to border security.”

To get some perspective on Abbott’s decision to keep national guard troops on the Texas border, ABC-7 spoke with a former El Paso and Tucson border patrol sector chief.

Victor Manjarrez is now the project director of UTEP’s Center for Law and Human Behavior. But as a former Border Patrol sector chief, he had a lot to say about the governor’s decision to keep National Guard troops at the border.

According to Border Patrol numbers, apprehensions of unaccompanied children from fiscal year 2015 in October and November to fiscal year 2016, increased from more than five thousand on the entire Southwest border to more than 10,000, a 106-percent increase.

In the El Paso sector, it went from 163 to 571 children this fiscal year, a 250-percent increase. And in the Rio Grande sector, it increased from more than 3,400 apprehensions to more than 6,400, a 101-percent increase.

Manjarrez told ABC-7, when you hear those overall percentages, an increase of more than 100-percent, it does sound pretty significant. However, he said, overall, it’s only about 5,000 more unaccompanied children detained during those months compared to a year ago, numbers that he didn’t find alarming:

“Over half of that’s along the Rio Grande Valley and then the remaining 50 percent is spread out along the Southwest border, everywhere from San Diego, Yuma, Tucson and El Paso,” Manjarrez said. “In fact, in the El Paso sector we’re really talking a difference of an increase of a couple hundred alien children. So the numbers are not real significant.”

He said bluntly that Abbott’s decision to keep troops at the border will not increase security. In fact, he said, that’s not the best way to help the Border Patrol do its job when it comes to unaccompanied minors.

“Quite honestly, it’s a little disappointing,” Manjarrez added. “If I were the sector chief in the Rio Grande Valley and I was watching things occurring around me, I would say, ‘Geez. You wanna help me, help me find some shelters for these children, because quite frankly, these unaccompanied children, they’re not trying to deceive anyone. They’re surrendering.”

Manjarrez said when there are places to house the children until immigration hearings, the number of crossings plummets. And that’s why he feels looking at other avenues, like state resources to help the Border Patrol, is a better solution.

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