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KFOX14 Investigates: National Guard arriving in El Paso

Border Wall

National Guard troops arrived in El Paso and are in the processgetting their assignments.

KFOX14 Investigates sat down for an exclusive interview with the El Paso Border Patrol Sector chief to find out exactly how these Guard members will help.

El Paso Sector chief Aaron Hull said this is a different mission for the Guard than in previous deployments, as they'll be performing more supporting roles.

The dusty edge along Santa Teresa, New Mexico, and Chihuahua, Mexico, is one of the key hot spots,agents tell us, for illegal border crossing in the El Paso Sector.

“Border security is national security. Our ability to secure the border is going to make it safer for all Americans,” said Hull.

Hull said the new bollard-style fence will hopefully deter the crossing in Santa Theresa.

“I would say the wall is most certainly part of the answer,” said Hull.

Along the fencing, children in Chihuahua peer through -- perhaps not a wall the way people envision.

“This structure is made of concrete, steel and rebar, and that sounds like a wall to me and that’s the terminology I’m using,” Hull said.

To Hull, it’s a wall in a way that allows Border Patrol agents to operate effectively.

“We have to be able to see through it, in order for us to maintain officer safety, to anticipate what’s going to happen on the other side,” said Hull.

The steel posts differ from previous fencing styles, which could be cut.

Along the border, we get a close-up look at places where the fence has been patched.

The welding is done by Border Patrol agents.

Roles like this -- welding, maintaining roads, clearing brush, fleet and infrastructure fixes -- are key roles the Guard will undertake.

“They have a great deal of expertise,” said Hull.

Which Hull said allows more agents to work the line.

“Apprehensions have been going back up for the last year,” said Hull.

Data from the last National Guard deployment in 2014 shows no substantial rise in undocumented immigrant apprehensions when the Guard is present.

As for expectations on this deployment?

“It's hard to make a prediction as to the impact or to compare the two. Our focus is what they are going to allow us to do, which is enforcing the law,” said Hull.

There was a decrease in total apprehensions in fiscal year 2017 but since then, Hull said the numbers have been steadily rising.

There was a “169 percent increase March to March,” said Hull.

It's too soon to say whether this bollard-style fence will be the president's vision of a wall.

But Hull said they're currently selecting contractors to build 4 miles of bollard wall near Chihuahuita, another hot spot for the El Paso Sector.

Border Patrol agents took us to several vistas, which could be considered blind spots or areas where their views can be obstructed.

As the Border Patrol faces a shortage of agents,

Hull says the Guard provides an extra set of eyes with air support, monitoring sensors and cameras, allowing more agents in the field.

“To help us to do two main things: increase our situational awareness and allow us some additional time to get even more agents trained, hired and deployed to the border,” said Hull.

President Donald Trump has authorized the hiring of 5,000 more agents. It's unknown how many the El Paso Sector could get.

There currently is no timeline for the construction of the bollard wall in Chihuahuita, but they are in the final phases of selecting a contractor.

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