Hidalgo Co. Constable Says National Guard Plays 'Supportive Role' in Border Security Efforts
NEAR MISSION – Pres. Donald Trump announced on Thursday afternoon thousands of National Guard troops could be headed to the border.
His announcement sparked arguments for those opposed and in favor of the troops.
Some community members in Hidalgo County say the National Guard might not be the right move to protect the border.
Rogelio Tijerina has lived in McAllen since he was 10 years old. On Thursday, he was fishing with his daughter at Anzalduas Park in Mission. He sported his handgun.
“Since there's activities, drug activities in Mexico, just feel safer,” he tells us.
Safety is what drives him to carry a weapon while fishing at the park. He says drug cartels often smuggle drugs within eyeshot of the water.
Tijerina admits he's never seen any drugs being smuggled or people crossing the area.
Hidalgo County Constable Precinct 4 Lazaro “Larry” Gallardo says his team is always patrolling the area.
“If we see something, we're going to act. We're going to detain, we're going to call Border Patrol, that's just what we're supposed to do,” he says.
He considers himself an old pro at patrolling the park area; it’s nothing new – not a crisis or a war zone, he said.
He disagrees with the idea of deploying National Guard troops to the border to fight drugs and people crossing illegally.
He noted the troops didn't have enforcement jurisdiction the last time they were stationed along the U.S.-Mexico border.
“They played a supportive role, like watching out to make sure that what they were seeing, what was coming down from different trails, using night vision at night,” he says. “And then they would contact communications, and be able to get border patrol or any law enforcement that was in the general area to respond to whatever they were seeing.”
Gallardo wants to see other solutions to the current situation, such as additional Border Patrol agents or technology along the river.
Tijerina agreed. He thinks Border Patrol needs to be the ones handling the job.
“I feel the National Guard to be kept for other types of duties. If they want to have more patrolling, they should hire more border patrol agents,” he says.
Pres. Trump ordered the hiring of 5,000 additional border patrol agents nationally in an executive order signed in January of 2017.
Until those agents are hired, local law enforcement is working with the current support.
During the interview with Gallardo, he pointed out an area people often used to cross illegally. It’s a portion that’s shallower.
Minutes after he made that statement, six immigrants used the exact path to cross into the country illegally.
But they weren't the immigrants you might expect from Mexico or Central America. Those detained were immigrants from China.
Local law enforcement turned them over to Border Patrol.