As part of Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan to stop illegal immigration, the Texas National Guard has put up miles of barbed wire along the border between Texas and New Mexico in the past few weeks. Abbott told a crowd in New York City last month that the state was going to build a wall along the border between New Mexico and Texas because people coming from Mexico into New Mexico were walking into El Paso.
“So not only are we building barriers between Texas and Mexico, but we’re also having to build barriers between Texas and New Mexico,” Abbott said at an event on September 27 put on by the Manhattan Institute, a think tank that leans right. The wall is made up of two rows of wires strung between metal poles. It runs through a city area west of Interstate 10 and close to Mount Cristo Rey, a landmark with a figure of Jesus on top of a mountain.
A request for comment was sent to the Texas Military Department, but they did not reply. Abbott’s office hasn’t said how long the new wall is, but a reporter from the Tribune drove along it on Tuesday and saw that it went on for about two miles.
Abbott sent National Guard members to El Paso earlier this year as part of Operation Lone Star, the governor’s border security plan that began in early 2021. Operation Lone Star sent National Guard members and state troopers to the Texas-Mexico border to arrest people crossing the border illegally and charge them with a misdemeanor for trespassing. Along the Rio Grande in El Paso, the National Guard also put up 18 miles of barbed wire.
In El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday, concertina wire was set up along the Rio Grande near the border between Texas and New Mexico. Behind the river, Mount Cristo Rey can be seen. Thursday, a trooper from the Department of Public Safety is stopped next to concertina wire that has been set up along the Rio Grande near the border between Texas and New Mexico. Paul Ratje took the picture for The Texas Tribune.
Along the Rio Grande near the border between Texas and New Mexico in El Paso, Texas on Tuesday, concertina wire was set up along the bank of the river. Behind it, Mount Cristo Rey stood tall. Last but not least, a Department of Public Safety trooper is stopped next to concertina wire that has been set up along the Rio Grande near the border between Texas and New Mexico in El Paso on Tuesday. Paul Ratje took the picture for The Texas Tribune.
To stop people from coming into New Mexico illegally and then moving into Texas, the Texas Military Department told KVIA-TV on Tuesday that they were fortifying the border between the two states.
A spokeswoman for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Caroline Sweeney, said that Abbott should “stop doing pointless political stunts and start working seriously for the people of the state he was elected to represent.” For her part, New Mexico “stands ready to assist as requested by federal or local partners to ensure individuals are treated with compassion and respect while maintaining public safety.”
According to federal immigration statistics, the number of encounters between migrants and border agents at the southern border hit a 20-year high of 1.7 million in fiscal year 2021. This number then rose to 2.4 million last year. The government kept track of 2.2 million encounters in the first 11 months of the fiscal year that finished on September 30, 2023. Of these, half happened at the border between Texas and Mexico. The numbers for September have not been made public yet.
As part of Operation Lone Star, Texas has tried a number of different ways to stop people from crossing the Rio Grande into the state. In Eagle Pass earlier this year, after the state put up concertina wire along the riverbank, a state trooper said that higher-ups told police to push migrants back into the Rio Grande and not give them water. In the middle of the river, the state also put up a 1,000-foot movable wall.