Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the state’s Department of Public Safety will deploy the Texas National Guard to the United States-Mexico border as part of “Operation Lone Star” to prevent Mexican cartels and traffickers from smuggling people and drugs into the state.
Describing the situation as a “border crisis,” the Republican governor made the announcement on Twitter Saturday. He said the operation involves the deployment of the Texas National Guard as well as air, ground, marine and tactical border security assets “to deny Mexican Cartels & smugglers the ability to move drugs & people into Texas.”
In a statement, the governor was critical of the Biden administration, which has pledged to reverse the Trump administration’s strict immigration policies that aimed to thwart smuggling and illegal immigration through the southern border.
“The crisis at our southern border continues to escalate because of Biden Administration policies that refuse to secure the border and invite illegal immigration,” Abbott was quoted as saying by local news outlet KFOX14.
“Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans. We will surge the resources and law enforcement personnel needed to confront this crisis.”
The operation was launched as the Department of Homeland Security has warned that the largest immigration wave in two decades could arrive in the next few months.
As The Washington Post notes, U.S. agents took nearly double the number of migrants into custody on several days last week than they did in January. Additionally, almost 350 teens and children have crossed the border without their parents each day, four times as many as last fall. According to the newspaper, many immigrants have been held for days in detention cells waiting for shelter openings.
Last month, Abbott met with DPS Director Col. Steve McCraw to discuss strategies to ensure safety and security along the border.
Around 300 South Carolina National Guard members are also deployed at points along the 2,000-mile stretch dividing the U.S. border and Mexico as they help understaffed federal law enforcement amid the recent surge in migrant crossings, according to The Post and Courier.
As Biden vowed during the 2020 campaign to reverse many of former President Trump’s policies, the Trump administration sought to ensure that migrant asylum-seekers would remain in Mexico while their cases were processed in the U.S.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration is planning to convert immigrant family detention centers in South Texas into rapid-processing hubs to screen migrant parents and children and release them within 72 hours.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, recently criticized the Biden administration. Last Thursday, the Democrat said that Border Patrol agents had apprehended as many as 10,000 migrants within the previous seven days.
“You just can’t say, ‘Yeah, yeah, let everybody in’ — because then we’re affected down there at the border. The bad guys know how to market this,” he said in a recent interview with Axios.
According to The Houston Chronicle, Cuellar warned that “we are weeks, maybe even days away from a crisis on the southern border.”
“Inaction is simply not an option,” Cuellar said. “Our country is currently unprepared to handle a surge in migrants in the middle of the pandemic.”
Del Rio Mayor Bruno Lozano, in a video last month, called on Biden to halt any measures regarding the “release of immigrants awaiting court dates into Del Rio and the surrounding areas.”
“We do not have the resources available to house and accommodate these migrants within our communities,” the mayor argued. “I will have no choice but to use the extreme measure under the declaration as the mayor of the city of Del Rio, Texas to refuse the entry of migrants awaiting court dates into the city of Del Rio.”
“If you do send these individuals into our community, we will be forced to make a decision to leave them without resources under these dire circumstances,” he added. “I am asking to please stop. Please make another plan for this federal issue.”