As the United States-Mexico border continues to experience a surge in people illegally crossing into the U.S., the governor of Texas has announced that the state will build border barriers in an effort to stem the flow of migrants since the Biden administration has refused to secure the border.
According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were 180,034 land encounters between illegal border crossers from over 50 different countries and immigration officials in May, making it the highest monthly tally in 21 years and the 13th consecutive month that the number of illegal border crossings increased.
While the number of border crossings dropped significantly in March and April 2020 when the Trump administration initiated the Title 42 health provision, which was authorized via an emergency declaration last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, crossings began to increase in May 2020 and surpassed 100,000 in February, President Joe Biden’s first full month in office.
At a Border Security Summit in Val Verde County, Texas, on Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans to construct border barriers as part of an effort to take a more active role in stopping the flow of migrants illegally entering into the state, which has the largest share of the U.S.-Mexico border, by taking them into custody. “The ability to arrest will be enhanced by building border barriers,” he said.
Val Verde County, which is located along the Texas-Mexico border, has been hit with the massive influx of migrants being trafficked into communities in that region. Border Patrol intelligence analysts estimate that cartels are making $25 million a week from human trafficking alone in that part of Texas.
While Abbott said that “some of these border barriers … will be built immediately,” he indicated that he would unveil “the plan for the state of Texas to begin building the border wall” next week.
The Biden administration halted construction of the border wall on his first day in office. As journalist Sharyl Attkisson recently reported, this led to “hundreds of security gaps in the wall where gates were about to be installed … that are now left wide open to drug and human trafficking.”
On Thursday, Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey wrote in a letter urging other governors to deploy available law enforcement to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist Border Patrol agents.
“With your help, we can apprehend more of these perpetrators of state and federal crimes, before they can cause problems in your state,” the two wrote. “Many of these [illegal immigrants] crossing involve state-law crimes, such as criminal trespassing or smuggling of persons. Most of them entail federal-law crimes, too, including illegal entry and illegal reentry.”
The Biden administration announced Friday that it has earmarked $46 million to meet the “unexpected urgent” needs of “vulnerable refugees and migrants in Central America and third countries in the region.”
Some of those funds will be given to international organizations by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, the White House said in a statement Friday. The administration, however, didn't specify which organizations will receive the funds.
The Biden administration said the aid will address the “push factors” or “root causes” of migration, both legal and illegal, in an attempt to reduce the number of people leaving their home countries for opportunities in the U.S.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, who's been an outspoken critic of the Biden administration's handling of the border crisis, told MSNBC on Thursday that, “the incentives are there for smugglers to keep trying to get people over here — they make $6,000 to $8,000 per person."
“We’ve got to enforce the law,” Cuellar said in reference to the “pull” factors. “Deport people that don’t have a right to be here."
Abbott held the Border Security Summit to bring together “local officials and residents to talk about immediate solutions” to the border crisis. He also explained that he was invoking Article IV of the Texas Constitution to form the Governor’s Task Force on Border and Homeland Security, which he said: “will help all of us to work on ways to stem the flow of unlawful immigration and … to stem the flow of illegal contraband.”
Members of the task force include the Office of the Governor, the Office of the Attorney General of Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
According to Abbott, the task force will meet every two weeks with the Texas Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, county judges, mayors, property rights organizations, concerned residents and prosecutors in border communities.
He vowed that the task force will work on solutions “to make your border safer,” highlighting that the “border crisis is plaguing the farmers, the ranchers, the residents of the entire border region.”
“Fences are being mowed down, you have livestock and crops that are being destroyed, you have homes that are being invaded and neighborhoods that simply are not as safe as they used to be,” he added.
After illustrating that the border crisis was stretching the resources of local communities, Abbott declared that “change is needed to fix the border crisis problem.” Abbott attributed the challenges faced by the residents of border towns to “the open border policies in place right now.” He specifically cited the Biden administration’s abolition of the Remain in Mexico policy, which required those seeking asylum to remain in Mexico while they waited for their claims to be adjudicated, as a reason for the border surge.
Summarizing the Biden administration’s border policy as “anybody who wants to come in is going to be allowed to come in,” Abbott warned that “the numbers of people coming across the border are going to continue to increase unless we change the game plan.”
While Abbott has already deployed more than 1,000 Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Texas National Guard members to the border to begin “the apprehension and arrest” process of migrants crossing the border illegally, he stressed that additional steps were needed to take to address the surge.
The state legislature had passed a budget allocating more than $1 billion to border security in Texas, which would add “more boots on the ground,” as well as “more aircraft and drones in the air, [and] more boats in the water,” in addition to providing “the resources that you need to begin to step up and more meaningfully address the border challenges that you face.”
Abbott already issued a gubernatorial disaster declaration for 34 counties that have requested assistance to deal with the border surge. He shared his intention to issue another gubernatorial disaster declaration that will compile an “enhanced border security plan.”
The “enhanced border security plan” will “focus on making arrests,” Abbott said. “The Department of Public Safety will work with local officials to arrest anyone who enters our state illegally and is found trespassing, engaged in vandalism, criminal mischief or smuggling.”
The governor acknowledged that “long term, only Congress and the president can fix our broken border,” while vowing that “in the meantime, Texas is going to do everything possible including beginning to make arrests to keep our communities safe, to keep the cartels and smugglers out and to keep your communities safe.”
Abbott’s visit to Val Verde County comes after the Biden administration’s approach to dealing with mass migration and the border crisis was criticized by Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei. He noted that despite telling people not to come to the U.S. months after the crisis began, as Vice President Kamala Harris did during her visit to the country last week, the administration's policies are making it easier for cartels to traffic people into the U.S.
“You can see that humanitarian messages were used here by the ‘coyotes’ in a distorted manner,” Giammattei told Fox News. “They said that they were going to support family reunification. So the coyotes came and took the children and teenagers to the United States. And the border filled up. Not only with people from Guatemala, but lots of people."
“That’s why we have suggested that the messaging be clear,” he added.
Biden named Harris as the “border czar” tasked with addressing the root causes of the surge in border crossings, specifically, what causes migrants to leave their home countries in the first place. Republicans have slammed the vice president’s failure to visit the U.S.-Mexico border in the nearly three months since she was appointed border czar. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley described her failure to visit the border as “embarrassing,” maintaining that “You can’t fix what you can’t see.”
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org