The man who designed the program to put national guardsmen on the border says it was a success when it started and predicts it will be a success now too, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.
Victor Manjarrez, who is a former Border Patrol Chief, also implemented Operation Jump Start in southern Arizona, where he directed the rollout. Guardsmen there were put in support roles, monitoring sensors and surveillance, at the time focusing on drug runners. He says that allowed Border Patrol Agents to go back onto the front lines.
"It was just under 500 agents who we were able to put back into the field. That's like ten border patrol classes."
He says, at the time, the agency was so short, border patrol agents were doing tasks far away from the border. They were, at times, fixing cars. When the guard rolled in, they took on those tasks, and he says it was a huge morale boost.
"The fact is, even the discussion of the National Guard improved morale because it someone was finally looking at this as a problem," he explains.
Trump announced last week that, until his wall is built, he would send 4,000 National Guard troops to the southern border. The plan was approved on Friday by Defense Secretary James Mattis.
"We're going to be doing things militarily," President Trump said. "Until we can have a wall and proper security, we're going to be guarding our border with the military."
This week, 500 members were sent to five different sectors along the U.S.-Mexico border.The Texas Military Department tweeted a photo with the caption "Texas National Guard is currently on ground across the Texas-Mexico border with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, preparing for more operations and troops."
Many of those troops will be in Congressman Will Hurd's district in South Texas, which is home to the largest stretch of border in Congress. He says the guard is merely a Band-Aid to a bigger problem.
"A better idea is to use more technology. A better idea for the Department of Homeland Security to address the hiring issues. There are currently 2,000 positions within Border Patrol that are unfilled and they're not being filled because of hiring issues and retention issues. "
The national guard is not a long term fix to the problem," Congressman Hurd says.