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Texas National Guardsman patrolling border dies by suicide, and Beto O'Rourke wastes no time before playing politics

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ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images

A Texas National Guardsman patrolling the southern United States border tragically died by suicide on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who is running for governor of Texas, seized on the incident to take an implicit potshot at Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

What are the details?

The solider was assigned to Operation Lone Star, a border security mission that became necessary last year because of the ongoing border crisis.

The National Guardsman died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head around 8:20 a.m., according to military documents obtained by the Army Times. The incident took place in Eagle Pass, a border town situated on the front lines of the border crisis.

In a statement, Abbott said he was "deeply saddened" to hear of the soldier's passing.

"Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the soldier," the statement said. "Texas Rangers are leading the investigation, as the Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety coordinate with local law enforcement. I ask all Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the soldier’s family during this heartbreaking time."

The Texas Tribune noted that the soldier's death is unfortunately the fifth suicide linked to Operation Lone Star and the 10th overall National Guardsman death connected to the mission.

Last year, four troops died by suicide over the span of just eight weeks, prompting an investigation.

More from the Texas Tribune:

When the first suicides linked to Operation Lone Star occurred last year, troops on the mission were struggling through pay problems and poor living conditions. Many were also dissatisfied with the large-scale involuntary activations that were required to meet Gov. Greg Abbott’s troop quotas, according to surveys of the mission’s troops obtained by Army Times and the Tribune.

What did O'Rourke say?

In his statement reacting to the news, O'Rourke took a shot at Abbott by claiming Texas National Guardsmen are being used as "political pawns," referring to Operation Lone Star.

"I'm so sorry to hear that a tenth Texas National Guard member has lost their life while deployed under Operation Lone Star," O'Rourke said.

"My thoughts are with his family, community, and the members of the Guard who served all of us alongside him," he added. "They should never be used as political pawns."

The soldiers, however, are not being used as political pawns.

Rather, Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021 because the Biden administration was failing to adequately respond to the flood of migrants crossing the southern border despite immigration being the responsibility of the federal government.

Operation Lone Star appears to be needed because, since it was launched, a record number of migrants have come into the U.S., which has resulted in a record number of migrant deaths.

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