(The Center Square) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and other Texas leaders criticized an immigration plan that President Joe Biden announced on Thursday.
The governor told The Center Square that if Biden’s planned visit to El Paso on Sunday was just another photo op like that of Vice President Kamala Harris,’ who went there last June, that he “should stay in D.C.”
Abbott, who’s repeatedly called on Biden to secure the border, hasn’t heard from him even after he called on him to address a humanitarian crisis in El Paso last month. The city’s Democratic mayor declared a state of emergency after thousands of people were released by the Biden administration into the west Texas region, hard hit by illegal border crossings. In response, Abbott sent 400 National Guard troops to El Paso to deal with the crisis.
“Two years later after swearing an oath to uphold the laws of our nation, it’s about time that President Biden visits the southern border and addresses the crisis he created.” Abbott told The Center Square. “However, if he’s planning on simply doing a photo-op stunt like Border Czar Harris and turning a blind eye to the suffering of Texans, he should stay in D.C.
“If President Biden is truly interested in helping border communities and stopping the historic flow of illegal immigration that he caused, he must see firsthand the unabated illegal border crossings resulting from his open border policies that are plaguing border communities,” he added.
On Thursday, Biden said he was expanding a “safe, orderly and humane” process to allow an additional 360,000 people to enter the U.S. from four countries and would provide funding for Mexico to help manage the flow of people entering the U.S., among other measures.
“Our problems at the border didn’t arise overnight, and they are not going to be solved overnight,” Biden said. “It’s a difficult problem.”
The White House released a list of “border enforcement actions” Thursday, which include “expanding legal pathways” including the parole process for Venezuelans to Nicaraguans, Haitians, and Cubans and “tripling refugee resettlement from the Western Hemisphere.” Critics say Biden doesn’t have the authority to change immigration law without Congressional approval.
In response, Abbott told The Center Square, “What President Biden proposed today is nothing more than a Band-aid for a historic flood. Border security means actually funding and deploying resources to secure the border, yet President Biden’s plan creates a greater magnet for illegal immigration and invites thousands more every month with the promise of asylum through an app.”
Since March 2021, Abbott and the Texas legislature have allocated more than $4 billion to secure the Texas border primarily through Operation Lone Star. Through it, and since March 2021, Texas law enforcement officers have apprehended more than 336,000 illegal foreign nationals and made over 23,000 criminal arrests, with more than 20,000 felony charges reported. They’ve also seized over 354 million lethal doses of fentanyl, enough to kill more than everyone in the U.S.
“For almost two years now, his reckless open border policies have been enriching the Mexican cartels and undermining our national security, with historic levels of illegal immigrants, weapons, and deadly drugs like fentanyl surging across the border,” Abbott said.
Retired U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, now a distinguished fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said, “The way the Biden administration is using parole authority appears to violate the law, in addition to undercutting our legal refugee system.”
Citing the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), he said the president was essentially allowing Mexico and the cartels to dictate U.S. immigration policy.
“There is no good reason for the U.S. to allow Mexico to determine the number of Venezuelans, Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians, or people of any other nationality for that matter, that we can return to that country after they illegally cross from that country into ours,” Scott said.
Scott also points out that CBP agents encountered “over 196,000 single adult illegal aliens” in November and “by law, every one of them should have been detained or immediately removed.” Instead, the Biden administration released most of them into the U.S., Scott said, in violation of federal law. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sued over this and other policies. One of her cases heads to trial on Monday in U.S. District Court in Pensacola.
Tom Homan, former acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told The Center Square that Biden’s plan was “nothing but smoke and mirrors. Now he wants to unlawfully issue tens of thousands of paroles to sidestep the legal asylum program. Why? Because he knows based on immigration court data that the majority of asylum claims are fraud. So, he will illegally use parole that is supposed to be issued on a case-by-case basis for significant public benefit to bring them in legally. Then they can claim the illegal entries on the border are down. But only because he legalized illegal immigration.”
Homan is also a fellow at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which filed an amicus brief in support of Moody’s case.
“The border security solution is fairly simple,” Scott, who was a chief during the Trump administration, added. “We left President Biden a working playbook: don’t release illegal aliens into the U.S. until their claims have been investigated and legally adjudicated.”
The National Border Patrol Council, the union representing Border Patrol agents, also took issue with claims the president made. It said in a statement, “At a press conference today Biden had the gall to compare people crashing our border now to people fleeing genocide in Germany. Absolute, total insanity. Our border disaster is driven by a refusal to enforce our laws, economic conditions in other countries and cartel profits.”
Texas has borne the brunt of illegal immigration and crime that comes with it, sharing 1,254 miles of the 1,954-mile-long U.S.-Mexican border. Texas saw over half of more than 3.3 million illegal entries reported by Border Patrol for all nine southwest border sectors in the fiscal year.
Nearly 1.8 million people were apprehended or evaded law enforcement after illegally entering Texas in fiscal 2022, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data obtained by The Center Square. They outnumber the populations of every individual city and town in Texas except Houston.