The Governor of Texas, Republican Greg Abbott, announced plans to build a wall along the state’s border with Mexico to help mitigate the immigration crisis at the Del Rio Border Security Summit to an audience of the state’s mayors, sheriffs, county judges, and police chiefs.
Former President Donald Trump initiated the national border wall project through an Executive Order signed in January 2017. However, President Joe Biden halted the construction on Jan. 20, 2021.
Safeguarding the border
“The border crisis is no laughing matter… It’s not a tourism site for members of Congress to visit and then return to D.C. and do nothing. Change is needed to fix the border crisis,” Abbott said at the summit. The governor did not give further information on the border wall plan but indicated that further details would be made available soon.
It is unclear whether Abbott has the authority to move ahead with the border wall plan. Some of the land is held by the state and federal government, while other stretches of land are considered private property. The Trump administration encountered the same issue while building the national wall.
Abbott blamed the elimination of the Remain in Mexico policy for the surge in the number of illegal immigrants crossing the border into Texas. Announced on Dec. 20, 2018, the Remain in Mexico policy allowed the government to release migrants with asylum claims into Mexico, where they would remain until the date of their asylum hearing in the United States.
Around 57,000 migrants had been sent back to Mexico by December 2019, but Biden ended the Remain in Mexico program in February 2021. The Texas governor stated that the border crisis was creating problems for farmers, ranchers, and residents of the entire border region of the state. He plans to help counties create more jail spaces to house illegal migrants arrested for crossing into Texas.
”Cartel, drug smugglers and human traffickers they are profiting over all of this… They are making money off smuggling in people from countries you haven’t even heard of before. It comes from 160 countries across the entire globe,” Abbott said, reports KGNS.
In an interview with Breitbart, the Texas governor stated that he would be focusing on building border walls in areas where migrants can easily cross over into Texas.
The Del Rio region has seen a 1,118 percent increase in the number of migrants apprehended in May 2021 compared to the year prior, with 27,890 migrants this year compared to only 2,289 last year. In December 2020, the last full month of the Trump administration, only 9,197 migrants were apprehended, data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) shows.
Abbott said that the influx across the border is “out of control,” and that the Biden administration has shown that it “is not going to step up and do its job.” He said that Texans at the border are seeing “very bad dangerous people come across the border,” who are damaging their livestock, fences, crops, homes, and neighborhoods.
Texas authorities plan to declare a State of Emergency to deal with the illegal migrants. The governor added that although Biden seems to be welcoming migrants into the United States, “we won’t be sending that message.”
“If you come to Texas, you’re subject to being arrested. You’re not going to have a pathway to roam the country. You’re going to have a pathway directly into a jail cell… We want to be very aggressive in working with local officials and begin making mass arrests… In working in collaboration with a large number of counties — that means we’re going to be arresting a lot more people,” Abbott said to Breitbart.
He said that a physical barrier at the border will serve two functions. First, it will physically deter illegal immigrants. Second, the migrants could be charged with crimes such as criminal trespass, vandalism of government property, and criminal mischief if they “move or interfere” with the barrier.
Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei recently blamed Biden’s immigration policy for the border crisis in America. In an interview with Fox News, he stated that Biden’s Family Reunification Task Force and mixed messaging had exacerbated immigration issues.
The Family Reunification Task Force focuses on reuniting “children and parents who were intentionally separated,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “You can see that humanitarian messages were used here by the coyotes in a distorted manner.” The term coyote refers to people who smuggle immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.
“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,” Giammattei said in the interview.