Republican Gov. Greg Abbott predicted Wednesday that Texas and 25 other states would keep prevailing against President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration but refused to put a deadline on when National Guard troops will leave the border with Mexico.
Flanked by U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and other top Texas conservatives to celebrate an early court victory against Obama's deportation-relief program, Abbott shifted to defending his decision this week to indefinitely extend the Texas National Guard mission that began last summer.
About 200 guard members had been scheduled to leave the Rio Grande Valley next month, but Abbott now says an unspecified number will remain until Texas hires and trains hundreds of new state troopers to replace the guard.
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He would not put a timeframe on how soon that could happen, but Texas Department of Public Safety leaders have said that getting started would take a year. Unlike state troopers or Border Patrol agents, guard members do not have arrest authority and are limited to being lookouts.
"It is our goal to ensure that only those who are authorized to cross the border, are the ones who are crossing the border," Abbott said.
A federal judge in Brownsville late Monday temporarily blocked Obama's plan to shield more than 4 million immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation. One program to help immigrants brought to the country as children was scheduled to kick in Wednesday.
Obama said this week that the law and history are on his side, and that he was confident the orders were within his authority. The Obama administration could seek a stay of the judge's order in addition to appealing to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
Last summer, then-Gov. Rick Perry deployed 1,000 guard troops to the Rio Grande Valley as Border Patrol agents were overwhelmed with the arrival of tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America pouring across the border. Those numbers have since declined sharply, but Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that the implementation of Obama's actions would set off "a new wave of thousands coming here hoping to achieve amnesty."
Immigrants and Democrats disappointed with the court decision accused Abbott and Republican leaders of being hostile toward Hispanics.
"Law enforcement likes to know who is here," Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said. "And if people are hiding in the shadows, it's hard to distinguish between those who are harmful and those who are not."