Greg Abbott, the Republican Governor of Texas, has issued a disaster declaration as his state grapples with a flood of migrants. In a statement issued on June 1, Abbott blamed President Joe Biden’s open-border policies for paving the way for “dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers, and deadly drugs like fentanyl to pour into our communities.”
“Landowners along the border are seeing their property damaged and vandalized on a daily basis while the Biden Administration does nothing to protect them. Texas continues to step up to confront the border crisis in the federal government’s absence,” said the statement.
By declaring a state of disaster, Abbott believes that the state will have more resources at its disposal to enforce laws to counter criminal activities stemming from the border crisis. Through the disaster declaration, Governor Abbott has instructed the following:
- The Department of Public Safety (DPS) should “use available resources to enforce all applicable federal and state laws to prevent the criminal activity along the border, including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking, and to assist Texas counties in their efforts to address those criminal activities.”
- The Texas Commission on Jail Standard and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement should work with Texas counties, providing them with guidance as needed. The commissions can request any necessary suspension of law from the Office of the Governor so that counties have the flexibility necessary to “establish adequate alternative detention facilities or other add or expand capacity.”
- The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has been asked to take “all necessary steps” to discontinue state licensing of child-care facilities that detain or shelter unlawful immigrants.
In March, Abbott had launched Operation Lone Star to tackle the border crisis. Since then, the DPS has made more than “1,300 criminal arrests, apprehended over 35,000 illegal immigrants, and seized over 10,000 pounds of drugs and over 100 firearms,” according to the disaster declaration.
More than 1,000 DPS troopers and hundreds of soldiers from the state’s National Guard have been deployed to the border this year. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, CBP agents at the Southwest border have encountered 178,622 illegal immigrants in April 2021, up from 71,951 encounters in October 2020.
Between October and January, the number of encounters per month remained below 80,000. However, in February, just one month after Biden became president, the number grew to 101,120. By March, the number had climbed to 173,348.
Counties in Texas are taking matters into their own hands by enforcing laws against illegal immigrants, reported The Epoch Times. “If we catch them, we’re going to start prosecuting these people that are trespassing on y’all’s property… And whatever other legitimate charge we can stack on there to try to deter them from coming to Kinney County. We’re going to try to hold these people accountable,” Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe told a crowd in Brackettville, Texas, on May 22.
A recent NBC report revealed that the Biden administration has been selectively releasing illegal immigrants into U.S. cities. In one case, 15 single adult men were sent to a nearby shelter, where they waited to board flights and buses to American cities to “reunite with family members and wait to have their asylum cases heard by immigration judges.”
According to Rio Grande Valley Border Patrol Sector Chief Brian Hastings, around 17 percent of all single adults and families who have been apprehended by border agents this year have been released into the country.
Furthermore, in an interview with Fox News, Texas Lieutenant Governor Republican Dan Patrick said that President Biden should be “ashamed of himself” for putting migrant children in “harm’s way.” He said, “[The Biden administration is] sending children into this country, having no idea where they’re going to end up. And some of these children are going to end up in sex trafficking. When they take these kids and send them to Uncle Bob in New Jersey, wherever it may be.”
Migrant crime and financial burden
In 2019, the Federation of American Immigration Reform (FAIR) published a study stating that illegal aliens were “three times as likely to be incarcerated than citizens and lawfully-present aliens.” In Arizona, around three percent of illegal aliens were incarcerated at a state or local facility, which was four times the 0.7 percent incarceration rate of lawful citizens.
In its year-end report published in December 2020, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said that its Enforcement and Removal Operations conducted “103,603 administrative arrests, approximately 90% involving aliens with criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.”
In a statement released on March 31, 2021, the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that Texas taxpayers shoulder a substantial financial burden every year due to illegal immigration. “Taxpayers are shelling out an estimated $855 million every year… Texas will always welcome those who legally immigrate, but we cannot continue forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for individuals who skirt the law and skip the line,” he said.