(The Center Square) – With Title 42 enforcement ending Wednesday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the leaders of other border states are preparing for an expected deluge of illegal entries into the U.S.
The anticipation of the end of Trump-era public health authority, which allowed Border Patrol agents to immediately expel illegal crossers for fear of spreading COVID-19, has already led to a surge of new entries, with the El Paso Sector at the southern border and the northern sector including Vermont seeing record numbers of illegal crossings.
“While the federal government abandons its constitutional duty to defend America and secure the border, the State of Texas continues taking unprecedented action to deescalate and decrease the influx of dangerous criminals, illegal weapons, and deadly drugs like fentanyl into our country,” Abbott said. “Stepping up to overcome extraordinary challenges is embedded in the spirit of Texas, and I have no doubt that the exceptional men and women serving Texans – and Americans – through Operation Lone Star will employ the best possible strategies to navigate the uncharted waters of President [Joe] Biden’s escalating border crisis.”
Abbott met with the heads of the Texas Military Department and Department of Public Safety on Friday to discuss the state’s response to the anticipated deluge.
The briefing was held near the border with TMD Adjutant General Thomas Suelzer, DPS Director Steve McCraw, TMD Major General Win Burkett, and other Operation Lone Star leadership and local officials.
It came after Abbott said Texas would be constructing more of its border wall next month after successful negotiations were reached with private property owners.
“It took months to negotiate with owners on the border for the right to build on their property,” Abbott said. “We now should be building more border wall all of next year.”
Earlier this year, Texas began building a border wall on state land as well as putting up border barriers along the riverbank and in the Rio Grande River. The state also deployed gun boats to patrol the Rio Grande River, placed razor-wire at low-water crossings and high-traffic areas, installed container blockades to stem the flow of illegal crossings, among other actions.
“Texas continues working collaboratively with border communities, private landowners, and other stakeholders to build the Texas border wall and stem the flow of illegal immigration and transnational criminal activity into Texas,” Abbott said.
Since Abbott launched Operation Lone Star in March 2021, state law enforcement officers alone have apprehended more than 333,000 illegal foreign nationals and made over 22,000 criminal arrests, with more than 20,000 felony charges reported.
DPS officers have seized more than 354 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill more than everyone in the U.S.
Texas also has bused more than 8,600 illegal foreign nationals to Washington, D.C., since April; more than 4,200 to New York City since Aug. 5; more than 1,400 to Chicago since Aug. 31; and more than 380 to Philadelphia since Nov. 15, according to data from the governor’s office.
While they commend Abbott and Texas law enforcement, the Texas GOP and at least 40 county judges have called on the governor to officially declare an invasion and to repel it – meaning, prevent entry into Texas by positioning the Texas military along the border to secure it, not apprehend illegal foreign nationals and turn them over to Border Patrol agents, who often release them into the U.S. Critics also have called on Abbott to repel the invasion by returning those who illegally enter Texas on state land to Mexico.
The unprecedented agreements Abbott reached earlier this year with four Mexican governors has not prevented illegal entry of millions of people from over 150 countries since January 2020. Over the past nearly two years, nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations have been assisting illegal foreign nationals once they’re released into the U.S. by Border Patrol agents, prompting Attorney General Ken Paxton to launch an investigation. Paxton launched a second investigation last week into three additional organizations.
Abbott also asked Paxton’s office to investigate reports that the Mexican government is colluding with cartels and non-governmental organizations to transport people through Mexico to the Texas-Mexico border. Once transported to the border, cartel scouts and coyotes guide foreign nationals to specific points along the border to walk, swim or boat cross the Rio Grande River and illegally enter Texas.
AT least 18,000 people a day are expected to illegally enter the U.S. once Title 42 is lifted. The illegal entries will soon dwarf the record 2.7 million apprehended by CBP agents in fiscal year 2022.