AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Governor Greg Abbott, in an executive order Thursday, ordered soldiers from the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to arrest the migrants. who cross into Texas without legal authorization and return them to the southern border.
The two-term Republican governor said he took the action because of what he called the Biden administration’s inability to control growing illegal immigration from Mexico. However, US Customs and Border Protection said that in May, federal authorities processed nearly 200,000 migrants for removal in the southwestern United States.
Both Abbott and federal authorities said more migrants than usual are crossing into the United States. The governor blamed the administration’s plan to end the Trump-era policy called Title 42, which turned away asylum seekers on the grounds that it would help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Abbott said in a statement that the administration’s intention to lift the policy helped drive the increase in crossings.
“The cartels have become emboldened and enriched by President Biden’s open border policies, trafficking in record numbers of people, weapons and deadly drugs like fentanyl,” Abbott said. In its executive orderAbbott said the cartels see Biden’s immigration policies as “the invitation” to cross the border without authorization.
Abbott touted the $4 billion Operation Lone Star that has sent about 10,000 National Guard troops to the border on extended deployments and bolstered the presence of DPS soldiers. Texas is also erecting fences on parcels of land where landowners have given permission as a countermeasure to Biden’s decision to end former President Donald Trump’s border wall construction.
Under Operation Lone Star, soldiers and local law enforcement agencies assisted by the National Guard have detained immigrants on charges such as trespassing as a means of detaining them under state law without usurping the authority of federal law enforcement officials. immigration.
In his executive order, Abbott said he has the authority under his emergency powers to order the Guard and DPS to detain unauthorized immigrants, even if they haven’t violated state law.
In Customs and Border Protection most recent press release Citing border crossing statistics, the agency chief disputed any suggestion that the administration has taken an “open borders” approach.
“Current restrictions at the US border have not changed – single adults and families found at the Southwest border will continue to be removed, as appropriate, under Title 42,” Commissioner Chris Magnus said. “Our message to those who would attempt to enter the United States illegally remains the same: Do not make the dangerous journey only to be sent back.”
The agency said 100,699 people were deported at the border under the Title 42 policy in May. Another 90,650 were sent back to cross under other provisions of federal law, CBP said.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, an El Paso Democrat, called Abbott’s latest move an election-year stunt.
“It’s one thing to say, ‘I want to use the power and authority that the public has given me to improve the situation,'” Escobar said. “But using immigrants as support, using the National Guard as a political toy, and using precious resources to try to get reelected and position yourself to run for president in 2024 is another thing. Because that’s what’s really going on here.” .”
On Wednesday, the Texas Tribune and ProPublica reported that the US Department of Justice was investigating possible civil rights violations under Operation Lone Star. The report cited letters from DPS and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ( TDCJ) who acknowledged the federal investigation.
The TDCJ letter said the Justice Department had questioned whether “differential and unlawful conditions of confinement based on their perceived or actual race or national origin” were in place for immigrants charged with violating state law and detained in the U.S. Texas prison facilities.
Contributor: Martha Pskowski, El Paso Times
This article originally appeared on the Corpus Christi Caller Times: The Texas National Guard is given authority to arrest migrants at the border