Authorities are searching for a Texas National Guard soldier who went missing after jumping into the Rio Grande river to save a pair of drowning migrants from Mexico.
The 22-year-old soldier, whose name has not been released, went into the water near Eagle Pass, Texas on Friday and has not been seen since, according to a Texas Military Department press release.
Multiple agencies searched for the soldier on Saturday and ‘will continue until we have exhausted all available resources,’ the department said.
‘Our thoughts and prayers remain with the family of the soldier.’
Preliminary investigation revealed the migrants, who are now in the custody of border patrol, were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking.
It is unclear if the military member knew of their allege criminal activity when he jumped to their rescue.
The guardsman had been assigned to Gov. Greg Abbott’s Operation Lone Star initiative that was aimed at combatting illegal border crossings and drugs.
Authorities were searching Saturday (pictred) for an Army guardsman who went missing after jumping into the Rio Grande river to save a pair of drowning migrants from Mexico
The 22-year-old soldier went into the river on Friday and has not been seen since. Officials say he tried to rescue migrants who appeared to be drowning. Divers are pictured searching for the soldier on Saturday
The missing Guardsman reportedly jumped into a portion of the river in Eagle Pass – a border town 143 miles southwest of San Antonio – Friday around 8:30 a.m. CT
Little is known about the incident, however video captured by NBC News showed crew-filled boats traveling through the river in search of the soldier.
Divers were also seen wading through the water.
At least a dozen vehicles were parked along the shore as officials on-land scavenged the grounds.
As of Saturday night, the soldier still had not been found, according to officials. The individual’s family has been notified of his disappearance.
The Texas National Guard acknowledged rumors that there had been a fatality, but stated those reports were false.
Officials are expected to continue their search again on Sunday. Abbott has provided his support to the agencies trying to locate the guardsman.
‘The Texas Governor’s office continues to work with the Texas National Guard and other law enforcement agencies as they search for the missing soldier,’ he said in a statement. ‘Updates will be provided as additional details become available.’
Preliminary investigation revealed the migrants, who are now in the custody of border patrol, were involved in illicit transnational narcotics trafficking. At least a dozen vehicles were parked along the shore Saturday (pictured) as officials on-land scavenged the grounds
Video footage showed crew-filled boats traveling through the river in search of the soldier. Divers were also seen wading through the water
As of Saturday night, the soldier still had not been found, according to officials. The individual’s family has been notified of his disappearance
The Texas military department acknowledged rumors that there had been a fatality, but stated those reports were false. Officials are expected to continue their search again on Sunday
Jon Anfinsen, local president of the Border Patrol union in the Del Rio sector, said the river was deceptively dangerous.
He said 11 bodies of migrants have been recovered this month alone from the U.S. side of this stretch of river, and 12 on the Mexican side.
‘Sometimes you see migrants use an inner tube, but in this part of the river, people hold hands and walk across in a human chain,’ he told The Washington Post.
‘If they step in a hole, that’s it. The river looks calm and walkable but it’s fast-moving and deceiving.’
Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber, who spoke with DailyMail.com on Friday, said it was unlikely the soldier is still alive.
‘After more than three hours, it is very doubtful,’ he said, adding: ‘That area of the river is very dangerous this time of year.
‘Very strong tides and currents. He did not resurface.’
Schmerber revealed that deputies recovered a walkie talkie and body armor belonging to the soldier on Friday afternoon, more than two hours after he went into the water.
The sheriff also confirmed at least one of the migrants the guardsman attempted to rescue, a woman, had not actually been drowning and only appeared to be struggling with the strong current.
‘She successfully made it to the US side of the river herself, where she was taken into Border Patrol custody,’ where she remained Friday afternoon, Schmerber said. The rest of her group, the sheriff revealed, were sent by border officials back to Mexico.
The area serves as a common crossing point for migrants entering the country from Mexico.
The guardsman was a member of Operation Lone Star, which Abbott launched in March 2021 amid a wave of illegal immigrants from Central America crossing the U.S.-Mexico border
The initiative deploys Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Texas National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in areas human and drug smugglers are known to use
Abbott, who is running for re-election this November, has launched several efforts to combat the crisis at the southern border. He is pictured on April 14 signing a border security agreement with Chihuahua Gov. Maru Campos Galvan in Austin, Texas
The guardsman was a member of Operation Lone Star, which Abbott launched in March 2021 amid a wave of illegal immigrants from Central America crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The initiative deploys Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Texas National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border in areas human and drug smugglers are known to use.
Attorney and other critics have slammed Operation Lone Star as being unconstitutional and illegal, the TV network reported. Last September, more than 200 people were ordered released after ‘being detained for weeks without charges’.
Abbott, who is running for re-election this November, has previously said the initiative is necessary to secure the border while President Joe Biden’s government was ‘absent.’
The governor has launched several controversial efforts to combat the crisis at the southern border, including most recently bussing illegal migrants from Texas to Washington D.C.
Abbott drew nationwide attention earlier this month after he sent four busses full of migrants from Venezuela, Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico who crossed into the U.S. illegally to Capitol Hill.
The governor directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to give willing migrants a free one-way ticket to D.C. for willing in an effort to show Biden the scale of the problem and ‘take the border to him’.
As of last weekend, nearly 80 migrants had been transported to the Capitol.
Abbott drew nationwide attention earlier this month after he sent several busses full of migrants from Venezuela, Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Mexico who crossed into the U.S. illegally to D.C. The buses are picture on April 8
The migrants chose to come to Washington D.C. and were not simply forced to get on a bus and travel 1,500 miles. A group of migrants are pictured on April 16
The bussing operation comes in response to the Biden administration’s move to rescind the public health order, known as Title 42, enacted during the pandemic that made it easier to expel migrants. The migrants are pictured exiting the bus in D.C. on April 16
Migrants from Texas are pictured during an April 16 intake conducted by members of the the Central American Resource Center in the food court at Union Station in D.C.
The bussing operation comes in response to the Biden administration’s move to rescind the public health order, known as Title 42, enacted during the pandemic that made it easier to expel migrants.
Initially, The White House dismissed the bus journeys as a it as a ‘publicity stunt,’ with many assuming the governor would not follow through.
Abbott has continued to state that the bussing operation was set up as a result of Biden’s mishandling of the border crisis as to the scale of the problem.
He had recently issued an order for state troops to step up truck inspections at the U.S.-Mexico border, which sparked controversy and led to extensive traffic and protests. The order has since been repealed.
The governor says more than 1.6 million have crossed into the country over the Texas within the last 15 months.
Since October 1, 2021 – the start of fiscal year 2022 – border officers have recorded 1,060,954 incidents with migrants. CBP documented 164,847 interdictions in October; 174,846 in November; and closed out December with 179,252 incidents.
CBP documented 164,847 interdictions in October; 174,846 in November; and closed out December with 179,252 incidents.
Encounters tailed off in January when 154,812 were reported before spiking up to 165,894 in February.
Las year’s fiscal year saw a still-marked 1,734,686 interdictions – a number that’s expected to rise, when the president repeals Trump-era policy Title 42, a law designed to immediately expel migrants to protect the US from COVID, early next month.
The looming policy shift has sparked fears that a further 500,000 migrants a month could begin making the sometimes perilous crossing, often through the raging Rio Grande, which covers a sprawling 1,255 mile segment of the US-Mexico border.
U.S. Border Patrol agents encountered 187 migrants after they illegally crossed the border with Mexico near Eagle Pass, Texas, on March 27. A reported released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Monday revealed there were 221,303 encounters with migrants in all of March
Title 42 is lifted next month. Pictured: Customs and Border Protection agents struggle with an asylum seeker from Russia in El Paso, Texas on April 14, 2022
Last month reached a new high of illegal immigrant crossing with CBP encountering 221,303 migrants. It was a new high from July of 2021, when apprehensions reached 213,593
When Title 42 does end, reports indicate that there are somewhere around 170,000 migrants waiting on the Mexican side of the border and prepared to immediately head towards the U.S. to claim asylum.
Two sources familiar with planning told CNN that Biden’s administration is preparing to offer vaccines to migrants taken into custody at the U.S.-Mexico border as warnings of an influx mount.
A report earlier this month showed that at least 5,000 migrants are prepared to immediately – and illegally – cross into the US once the Trump-era coronavirus provision ends.
The White House has not yet commented on the Guardsman’s disappearance.
The oldest-ever U.S. president has seen his approval numbers plummet to record lows in recent months, following a chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, rising consumer and gas prices, record rates of inflation, and the influx of migrants at the country’s Southern border.
The latest Gallup survey released on Friday revealed that only 41 percent of U.S. adults approve of the job Biden is doing after a year in office, confirming previous surveys that depicted the president’s poor approval rate.
Fifty-six percent of those surveyed in the Gallup poll said they disapprove of Biden’s performance as president – a stark about-face from the 57 percent approval rate the president boasted upon entering office in January 2021.
Gallup noted that Biden’s current average approval rating is lower than all previous presidents in the post World War II-era with the exception of Donald Trump, who had 39.1 percent favorability ratings during his first year in office.