Texas Governor Greg Abbott vowed this week to direct law enforcement to arrest every migrant that crosses the state’s southern border with Mexico.
“We’re about to change the way Texas addresses the challenges on the border and we’re going to start by helping these 34 counties respond by increasing arrests,” Abbott told Sean Hannity on Fox News on Wednesday.
“The law that I’m going to use will be legal ways in which Texas is going to start arresting everybody coming across the border,” he added. “Not just arresting them, but because this is not going to be aggravated trespass, they’re going to be spending a half a year in jail, if not a year in jail, as well as other action that I will be announcing next week.”
Also this week, the Republican governor issued a disaster declaration in an effort to fight the influx of illegal immigrants crossing Texas’ southern border.
According to Abbott’s declaration, he is directing the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to enforce federal and state criminal laws, including trespassing, smuggling and human trafficking. The state’s legislature recently allocated an additional $1 billion for DPS border efforts.
Under the order, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission must also move to discontinue state licensure of childcare facilities being used under federal government contracts to shelter or detail illegal immigrants.
“President Biden’s open-border policies have paved the way for dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers, and deadly drugs like fentanyl to pour into our communities,” Abbott said in a statement Tuesday.
Fox reported that the governor has deployed at least 1,000 DPS troopers and Texas National Guard soldiers to assist at the border in this year alone.
In his declaration, Abbott noted that Texas DPS has “made over 1,300 criminal arrests, apprehended over 35,000 illegal migrants and seized over 10,000 pounds of drugs and over 100 firearms” since early March, adding that law enforcement intercepted “21.5 million lethal doses of fentanyl,” between January and April.
“Texas continues to step up to confront the border crisis in the federal government’s absence, but more must be done,” Abbot said.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration officially ended the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy that forced asylum-seekers who illegally entered the United States to stay in Mexico until their cases can be hear by an American judge.
In a Department of Homeland Security memo originally obtained by the Associated Press, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas claimed the Migrant Protection Protocols Program – the official name for “Remain in Mexico” policy – “does not adequately or sustainably enhance border management in such a way as to justify the program’s extensive operational burdens and other shortfalls.”