The head of the Border Patrol union said Thursday that President Donald Trump's deployment of National Guard troops to the southern is "a colossal waste of resources”, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"We have seen no benefit," said Brandon Judd, president of the union that represents 15,000 agents, the National Border Patrol Council.
"When I found out the National Guard was going to be on the border I was extremely excited," Judd said, because previous deployments on the border helped alleviate the Border Patrol's workload.
But this time, he said, "that has not happened at all."
To date 1,600 troops have been deployed with another 750 expected soon. The total could eventually reach as high as 4,000 troops.
A Pentagon official said the National Guard troops at the border now are operating in the same capacity as those under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, adding that “they're different in how they're perceived” under Trump but not in what they’re doing.
Border Patrol union members disagree.
The last time the National Guard was deployed to the border — in Texas in 2014 and borderwide in 2010 — troops assumed Border Patrol posts on the front lines, easing the workload, Judd said. Although National Guard members were restricted to an "observe and report" role and couldn't detain migrants, they still aided patrols.
"They were allowed to do a lot more than they are under the Trump administration. They were allowed to be in lookout and observation posts. They were allowed to be out grading the roads and mending fences. They were allowed to be our eyes and ears, freeing us up," Judd said.
This deployment, he said, has proved to be far more limited — despite the Trump administration's claims.
"They're not allowed to be in the public eye. They're not allowed to be in our lookout and observation posts, even in Texas," he said, the busiest area of the border for migrants and drug smuggling.
The Times received mixed responses in talking to Border Patrol and other local officials – some seemed to think the troops have been helpful while others more or less agreed with union members.
Laredo, Texas, Mayor Pete Saenz said he checked the union's claims with the local Border Patrol commander Thursday, and was reassured.
"From his standpoint, they have been a tremendous help — National Guard troops, primarily for situational awareness, behind the scenes," Saenz said.
While troops were "not used for law enforcement," they have logged 2,000 hours of helicopter surveillance "for detection" and "that's been extremely helpful for the chief and the Border Patrol people here."