Old video of Texas National Guard at border misrepresented online

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Social media users are claiming a video shows Texas National Guard forces deployed to the US-Mexico border amid a January 2024 standoff between the state's Republican officials and the federal government over immigration. This is false; the clip is months old and unrelated to the latest dispute.

"In Texas, the frenzy is already turning into chaos. Additional security forces are being assembled to proceed to the US-Mexico border," says a January 27, 2024 post on X, formerly Twitter, from an account called "S p r i n t e r" that has previously spread other misinformation.

<span>Screenshot from X taken February 2, 2024</span>
Screenshot from X taken February 2, 2024

Similar posts circulated across platforms, including in Spanish, as Texas Governor Greg Abbott escalated a feud with the Biden administration over immigration enforcement -- a hot-button issue in the 2024 US election.

Texas has continued fortifying the banks of the Rio Grande near the small city of Eagle Pass despite a Supreme Court ruling that sided with the federal government in allowing Border Patrol agents to remove concertina wire barriers the state had erected in the area.

The rising tensions inspired a parade of truckers calling themselves the "Take Our Border Back" convoy to descend on the state, prompting a flurry of misrepresented videos about the situation on the ground.

The clip of Texas National Guard forces is also misrepresented -- it dates to May 2023 and was filmed miles away from Eagle Pass in the border city of Brownsville, Texas.

Reverse image searches reveal Fox News correspondent Bill Melugin posted the footage to X on May 10, 2023 (archived here). Abbott shared it on X and Facebook (archived here and here).

"The new Texas Tactical Border Force deployed to Brownsville to help shut down a hotspot for illegal crossings," the governor said. "With Title 42 ending tomorrow, Texas will not hesitate to respond to the crisis President Biden has created on the border."

Abbott announced the deployment in a May 8 press release (archived here). He said it was a response to the expiration of Title 42, a pandemic-era rule former president Donald Trump started using in 2020 to swiftly expel migrants as a matter of public health.

The Republican governor said the hundreds of Texas National Guard soldiers would "help intercept and repel large groups of migrants trying to enter Texas illegally." They joined thousands already stationed near the frontier as part of a border security initiative he launched in 2021 called Operation Lone Star.

Using Google Maps, AFP geolocated the footage to River Levee Road, near the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's Brownsville campus (archived here).

<span>Screenshots from X taken February 2, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP</span>
Screenshots from X taken February 2, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP
<span>Screenshots from Google Maps Street View taken February 2, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP</span>
Screenshots from Google Maps Street View taken February 2, 2024, with elements outlined by AFP

Brownsville is roughly 270 miles (about 435 kilometers) from Eagle Pass, according to Google Maps, which indicates the drive between the two locations takes more than five hours.

AFP has debunked other misinformation about US politics here.