(The Center Square ) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday warned the Biden administration that without federal action, lives will be lost at the southern border as a polar vortex is expected to bring temperatures down to well below freezing in the state.
In a letter to Biden Tuesday, Abbott wrote, “With cold temperatures gripping Texas, your inaction to secure the southern border is putting the lives of migrants at risk, particularly in the City of El Paso.
“Your policies will leave many people in the bitter, dangerous cold as a polar vortex moves into Texas. This terrible crisis for border communities in Texas is a catastrophe of your own making. These communities and the state are ill-equipped to do the job assigned to the federal government – house the thousands of migrants flooding into the country every day.”
On Tuesday, the temperature in El Paso was 58 degrees. But a weather front bringing extremely cold air from Siberia that’s expected to send the U.S. into a deep freeze days before Christmas will also hit Texas with subfreezing temperatures as well.
Thursday night, wind chill temperatures in El Paso are expected to reach 12 degrees Fahrenheit, the National Weather Service reports.
“Gusty east winds, and temperatures in the teens and 20s overnight, will combine to produce dangerous wind chill temperatures across the Borderland,” it says. “Expect near zero wind chills over Otero and Hudspeth counties, with low to mid teen wind chills elsewhere Thursday night through mid-morning on Friday.”
Unless the people, including babies, lying on the sidewalks and other public places aren’t moved to shelter or detained according to federal law, they could die, Abbott said.
“With perilous temperatures moving into the area, many of these migrants are at risk of freezing to death on city streets,” Abbott wrote Biden. “Texas has borne a lopsided burden caused by your open border policies. The need to address this crisis is not the job of border states like Texas.”
Abbott noted the U.S. Constitution dictates it is the president’s job “to defend the borders of our country, regulate our nation’s immigration, and manage those who seek refuge here.”
Abbott’s former Democratic challenger for governor, El Paso native Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, tweeted how residents could “help El Paso nonprofits deliver aid and assistance to refugees and migrants.”
While running for governor, O’Rourke claimed El Paso was one of the safest cities in Texas, a claim contradicted by the FBI and others working to uncover cartel and gang stash houses in a city that’s a prime human trafficking destination. He also said he would end Operation Lone Star and pull law enforcement and resources from the border.
By contrast, Abbott directed the Texas National Guard to activate and deploy 400 soldiers to El Paso on Monday, two days after the Democratic mayor of the city declared a state of emergency because of the crisis.
Since November 2021, 6,128 Texas National Guardsmen and women have been placed along the Texas-Mexico border; another 3,700 are also deployed elsewhere as part of Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star. The governor has now directed 1,600 state troopers to the border. They’re working with hundreds of officers from local sheriff’s offices and police departments thwarting cartel and gang-related criminal activity stemming from the border.
As of Dec. 16, they’ve apprehended more than 333,000 illegal foreign nationals and made more than 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 the entire population of America.
In response to the humanitarian and criminal crisis in El Paso, Abbott directed the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Military Department, as well as other state assets “to protect Texas from the torrent of migrants and cartel activity streaming into our state.”
He wrote the president, “You and your administration must stop the lie that the border is secure and, instead, immediately deploy federal assets to address the dire problems you have caused. You must execute the duties that the U.S. Constitution mandates you perform and secure the southern border before more innocent lives are lost.”
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas maintains “the border is secure” and the administration is committed to overseeing a “safe and orderly process.”
Biden has yet to visit the border since he’s been in office, most recently arguing he “has better things to do.”