(The Center Square) – Republican Gov. Chris Sununu is deploying New Hampshire National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist federal immigration officials with an unprecedented surge of undocumented migrants.

Sununu said more than 160 National Guard soldiers from the 941st Military Police Battalion and 237th Military Police Company will be dispatched for a one-year mission to conduct surveillance and support other U.S. troops on the ground along a 250-mile section of the southern border.

"They answered the call to serve during the COVID pandemic, and are now answering our nation’s call – deploying to the ongoing humanitarian crisis along our southern border," Sununu said in a statement. "New Hampshire stands by our National Guard and we wish everyone a safe and speedy return home."

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The deployments include National Guard members from more than a dozen states, including Kentucky, Rhode Island and Illinois. The troops were requested by the U.S. Department of Defense to assist Border Patrol in dealing with a surge of illegal trafficking of people, weapons and drugs into the country.

The U.S. Border Patrol has apprehended migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border more than 1.8 million times since October, breaking previous records, according to the agency.

Roughly half of those immigrants were expelled under Title 42, a federal public health order that has been in place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But hundreds of thousands more migrants have been allowed to seek asylum and other protections in the United States, according to immigration officials.

Republican governors in Texas and Arizona have criticized the Biden administration's response to the surge.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster last year in response to the higher volume of unlawful border crossings at the Southwest border, and has directed state and local police to ramp up arrests of unauthorized immigrants. Abbott has also deployed thousands of National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border.

New Hampshire deployed National Guard troops to the southwest border from October 2020 through November 2021, and the Sununu administration said the units "helped" apprehend 207,320 migrants, seize an estimated $893 million worth of illegal drugs and "saved" 20 migrants' lives.

Under federal law, National Guard soldiers are prohibited from coming into contact with undocumented migrants are required to notify border patrol about any crossings.

This story was produced by The Center Square.

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