(The Center Square) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday urged President Joe Biden to implement five policies to help secure the U.S. southern border, hand delivering him a letter after the president landed at the El Paso International Airport for his first visit to the border since he took office.
“Thousands of Texans have lost their lives,” Abbott told reporters, saying he told the president the chaos at the border was a result of the president’s “refusal to enforce immigration law” already passed by Congress.
He said the president’s visit was “two years and $20 billion too late” and argued Biden avoided crisis areas and meeting with Texas property owners whose lives were being “destroyed” by his policies.
Biden didn’t speak publicly or field questions from the media during his visit Sunday.
In his letter, Abbott told the president, “even the city you visit has been sanitized of the migrant camps which have overrun downtown El Paso because your administration wants to shield you from the chaos that Texans experience on a daily basis,” which is a direct result “of your failure to enforce the immigration laws that Congress enacted.”
While illegal immigration slowed under the Trump administration, Abbott said, under Biden’s watch, “America is suffering the worst illegal immigration in the history of our country.”
He said he told the president, “Your open-border policies have emboldened the cartels, who grow wealthy by trafficking deadly fentanyl and even human beings. Texans are paying an especially high price for your failure, sometimes with their very lives, as local leaders from your own party will tell you if given the chance.”
“All of this is happening,” he said, because the president has violated his “constitutional obligation to defend the states against invasion through faithful execution of federal laws.”
Abbott said he welcomed the president to the southern border. After Biden was finished with “photo-ops in a carefully stage-managed version of El Paso,” Abbott said, he “must” implement the policies he suggested. They include complying with federal law requiring detention and deportation of those in the U.S. illegally, fully complying with court orders to implement Remain in Mexico and Title 42 policies, finishing building the border wall in Texas, and designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.
The first proposal, requiring illegal foreign nationals to be detained to “end the practice of unlawfully paroling aliens en masse,” the Biden administration is currently fighting in court in a lawsuit filed by Florida. A trial begins Monday in that lawsuit.
The second, to “stop sandbagging the implementation of the Remain in Mexico policy and Title 42 expulsions, and fully enforce those measures as the federal courts have ordered you to do,” is also being fought in court by the Biden administration in a lawsuit brought by Texas and Missouri. Arizona, Texas and 17 other states sued over Title 42, and have so far prevailed in the courts to halt it from being terminated.
The third, to “aggressively prosecute illegal entry between ports of entry and allow ICE to remove illegal immigrants in accordance with federal laws,” the Biden administration is also fighting in court. Nineteen attorneys general filed a brief with the Supreme Court in attempt to get the administration to comply with federal deportation requirements.
The fourth, to “immediately resume construction of the border wall” in Texas, is something the administration has vowed not to do after it halted construction shortly after the president took office. In the federal government’s absence, Abbott was the first governor to build a wall on Texas soil, which broke ground in December 2021.
The fifth was a continued call by the governor requesting the president to designate cartels as FTOs.
Abbott told reporters on Sunday Biden’s response was “cordial” and that the president said he “wanted to work with Republicans.”
Abbott also said the president “has never called me to discuss” the “chaos at the border.” He said, “I’ve provided him with real solutions” and “I expect him to call me.”
Of the policies proposed by Biden and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas last week, Abbott said, “they will do nothing more than entice more illegal immigration.”
He also said “Texas desperately needs more money” after having already spent $4 billion of Texas taxpayer money on border security efforts. The Texas Legislature, which convenes on Tuesday, will be committing at least another $4 billion to ongoing border security efforts, he said.
He also said U.S. House Republicans have committed to border security measures, and he expects the federal government to reimburse Texas. Its border security mission, as of Jan. 6 and since March 2021, has led to the apprehension of more than 340,000 illegal foreign nationals and criminal arrests of over 23,000 people with over 21,000 felony charges reported. They’ve also seized over 355 million lethal doses of fentanyl.
Abbott pointed to Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis sending busloads of people to Chicago and New York because “we don’t have the capability to cover them,” but “self-described sanctuary cities have the capacity to deal with this.”
Texas has bused over 9,100 people to Washington, D.C., since April, over 4,900 to New York City and over 1,500 to Chicago since August, and over 840 to Philadelphia since November, his office said.