As Texas border counties struggle to contain the overwhelming surge of illegal immigrants, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced his administration is putting a stop to it through a disaster declaration: “We’re going to start arresting.”
“I don’t think this has ever happened before where a disaster declaration was made for border counties because of the influx of people coming across the border,” Abbott said on Fox News Wednesday. “But I did because we are about to change the way that Texas addresses the challenges on the border, and we are going to start by helping these 34 counties respond by increasing arrests. We’ve got a new game in the state of Texas that’s going to begin next week, and that’s we’re going to start arresting.”
Abbott’s declaration is five pages and comes about two months after the governor launched Operation Lone Star to direct the Texas Department of Public Safety “to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas.”
The Tuesday order instructs the government to follow state and federal laws and take required steps in order to stop Texas from continuing the licensing of migrant facilities that are under contract with the Biden administration. Thousands of migrants are being held in Texas, with one facility in El Paso having more than 4,500 kids as of late May.
“When Jan Brewer was governor of Arizona, Arizona passed laws that did exactly that, where they would send people back and they would not accept people,” Abbott told Sean Hannity upon being asked why Texas cannot just immediately send migrants back to their native country. “And the law that Arizona passed went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in a case called Arizona v. the United States, where the United States Supreme Court said Arizona does not have that.”
“You know the attorney general that I used to be,” the governor continued, “and so I followed the law and 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 — not just arresting them, but because this is not going to be aggravated trespass, they are going to be spending a half a year in jail, if not a year in jail, as well as other actions that I will be announcing next week.”
The governor’s disaster order also directs the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and Texas Commission on Jail Standards to advise counties and deal with any necessary employment changes within detention facilities. Likewise, the agencies can ask for waivers for facilities to come up with other detention areas or expand the number of migrants being held.
“Under the Biden administration, the federal government has shown unwillingness, ambivalence, or inability to enforce federal immigration laws, to deter and stop illegal border crossings into the United States or to meaningfully partner with Texas in pursuing these goals,” the declaration states.
Dating back to 2014, the state has doled out $3.5 billion to address southern border safety and security. Abbott has thus far sent 1,000 state troopers to the border this year, as well as hundreds of Texas National Guard members.
Texas officials have arrested more than 1,300 people along the border since the onset of Operation Lone Star, and more than 35,000 migrants have been apprehended. Over 10,000 pounds of narcotics and hundreds of illegal guns have likewise been confiscated.
Before the governor took action this week, more than a dozen counties requested dollars from the state through declarations. Abbott’s statewide declaration permits Texas to request that the federal government provide aid to combat the border surge.