The New York National Guard is sending one of its two UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopters and a four-man crew to the Arizona-Mexico border on Wednesday to assist with illegal activity and illegal immigration. The Army National Guard helicopter and its crew is being deployed to Marana, Arizona.
Breitbart Texas spoke with New York National Guard Public Affairs Officer, Major Al Phillips who said, “The deployment is part of ongoing support and does not relate to current headlines.”
Guardsmen will fly aerial reconnaissance missions along the border and will watch for illicit drug and human trafficking and illegal immigration activities.
The four-man crew will be accompanied by a Customs and Border Patrol agent. The agent has the legal authority to make arrests if necessary and is familiar with the area the crew will be patrolling.
This Lakota helicopter has infrared capabilities and a high-powered searchlight and can easily track people on the ground and can coordinate with Border Patrol agents.
The NY National Guard spokesman said this is the third time that the New York National Guard has sent support to the Texas border. The last time was in Laredo, Texas, approximately one year ago.
The Guardsmen are being sent to support other federal law enforcement officials there, including border patrol agents, and those with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies.
Maj. Phillips said the missions have been approved by the National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security located in Washington, D.C.
Phillips told Breitbart Texas, “This is a great mission. It gives our pilots and crew an opportunity to both train and support Homeland Security.” The skills learned by working with law enforcement, and by conducting air search operations, can be employed in New York during disaster response missions, he said.
More than a thousand New York National Guard troops were deployed in 2006-2008 as part of “Operation Jump Start.”
New York aviators have supported Arizona and Texas with aerial reconnaissance missions since 2012.
In 1916, the NY National Guard sent the “New York Division” to Texas as part of an 110,000-member force to prevent repeat of a raid on Brownsville, Texas, by the Mexican Revolutionary Poncho Villa. President Woodrow Wilson had the New York Division in Texas from July 1916 to February 1917 to aid in this effort.
The crew will be deployed to the border until December.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2