Gov. Doug Burgum and the North Dakota National Guard’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, today visited the 125 soldiers from the Bismarck-based 957th Engineer Company serving along the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas, getting a first-hand look at their border mission and thanking them for their service in support of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The multi-role bridge unit was mobilized in October as requested by the U.S. Army through the National Guard Bureau to continue the southwest border military mission that began in 2018. They are expected to be deployed for approximately one year.
“These highly trained North Dakota National Guard soldiers are serving a critically important role in support of U.S. border security efforts along the southwest border,” said Burgum, who serves as commander-in-chief of the North Dakota National Guard. “From the southwest border to our shared northern border with Canada, border security affects every state in the nation, from ensuring the safe and efficient flow of goods and services to stopping illegal immigration and drug and human trafficking. We’re deeply grateful to our North Dakota soldiers for doing their part with courage and professionalism to support the efforts to end the humanitarian crisis and secure the southwest border.”
While at the border, Burgum and Dohrmann received briefings from CBP and Guard officials and met with the soldiers and command team from the 957th to understand first-hand the ground truth of the record number of illegal crossings into the United States.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the professionalism I saw within our soldiers during the visit down here,” Dohrmann said. “I also gained a greater appreciation for the enormous challenge that Customs and Border Protection is facing down here, and really gained an appreciation for the work they do, the professionalism of that organization. I’m proud and humbled that the North Dakota National Guard can be part of the solution.”
At nearly 2,000 miles long, the southwest border is the most frequently crossed international border in the world, with approximately 350 million documented crossings annually. More than 1.6 million migrants have been apprehended trying to cross the border illegally since January 2021. October data from CBP reported a record 164,303 apprehensions, a record for the month.
In the two months the 957th has been deployed at the border, members through their surveillance mission have assisted CPB in 30,000 apprehensions. For the year ending Sept. 30, CBP officials recorded nearly 260,000 encounters with migrants attempting to cross the border illegally, compared with 40,000 the previous year in the 957th’s operating sector.
Burgum was among 26 Republican governors who sent President Biden a letter in September requesting a meeting with the president to discuss the ongoing crisis at the border. The request has not been granted.
Created in 1987, the 957th has a rich history of mobilizations and has been extremely active the last 20 years, with several key deployments including Iraq in 2003-2004, Kosovo in 2009-2010 and Kuwait in 2019-2020. The unit also contributed to North Dakota’s historic statewide flood fight in 2011.
Due to security concerns, the military requested that the location of the 957th not be publicized.