Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he’s deployed a special border force just days before this week’s expiration of the Title 42 public health order that turned back millions of illegal immigrants in recent years.
Abbott, a Republican who has been critical of Democratic President Joe Biden’s border policies, said that members of the newly minted Texas Tactical Border Force will be sent via Black Hawk helicopters to areas around the U.S.-Mexico border. The force are a specially trained unit under the Texas National Guard.
The border force, he said, will be sent to “hotspots all along the border to help intercept and repel large groups of migrants trying to enter Texas illegally” before criticizing the Biden administration for allowing Title 42 to end. “The Texas Tactical Border Force will bolster our Operation Lone Star efforts to secure the Texas border amid the chaos caused by President Biden’s elimination of Title 42,” he added.
A similar tactic was used in El Paso successfully last December, he said at a news conference Monday. In the last couple of days, Abbott added, the National Guard identified and suppressed a surge in crossings at Brownsville, the same city where a driver plowed into a group of illegal immigrants—mostly from Venezuela—on Sunday.
The elite National Guard team will focus on any such surges that occur, identifying crossing points and shutting them down, the Texas governor said. They will have access to aircraft, boats, night vision equipment, and riot gear, added Abbott.
Scheduled to end Thursday, Title 42 allows federal border agents to rapidly expel illegal immigrants to Mexico. It was first implemented in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic to stem the spread of COVID-19 in crowded detention settings.
Its repeal is expected to lead to a rise in border arrivals as a result of pent-up demand and the perception among illegal crossers—many of whom are from Mexico, Venezuela, and Central America—that they’ll be allowed inside the United States. Since Biden took over, Republicans have been critical of what they called the administration’s lax policies around illegal immigration and enforcing federal laws.
“These additional forces will bolster the thousands of Texas National Guard service members already assisting local and state law enforcement agencies to secure the border; stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people into Texas; and prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal behavior between the ports of entry,” the Texas National Guard said in a statement on Monday.
“We have expanded our capabilities to include boat teams that patrol hundreds of river miles, drones and helicopters that detect illicit activity from the air, and brush teams, security points and roving patrols that block and interdict illegal smuggling (drugs, weapons and people) into Texas,” the statement continued.
In Monday’s news conference, Abbott said that he would continue to bus illegal immigrants from the border to cities like Chicago and New York. But in a turn of events, officials in New York City announced last week they would send hundreds of illegal immigrants to a small city in suburban Rockland County, drawing pushback from local officials, who declared a state of emergency.
He said he was working with state lawmakers to make it a felony to illegally enter Texas from Mexico or to be involved in so-called stash houses for migrants who have crossed the border illegally. Another measure would impose a 10-year minimum jail sentence for anyone convicted of smuggling people into Texas.
The Epoch Times has contacted Abbott’s office for further comment on what powers the Texas Tactical Border Force will have in repelling illegal migrants. The federal government is the sole entity that enforces U.S. border and immigration law, while states have little latitude in doing so.
“The cartels know it’s the federal government that controls the immigration process. The cartels are working in collaboration with President Biden and the federal government to facilitate that illegals cross the border,” Abbot said, adding that his state is being “undermined” by the federal government.
The governor also threw his support behind efforts in the Texas legislature to boost state laws targeting illegal border crossers. One measure would make it a felony to illegally enter Texas from Mexico, while another would impose a 10-year minimum prison sentence for individuals convicted of human smuggling.
Abbott’s remarks come as a 34-year-old suspect, George Alvarez, was charged in the deaths of eight people who were sitting near a shelter housing illegal immigrants and homeless people in Brownsville, located across the border from Matamoros, Texas. Officials have released few details about the suspect but said he’s uncooperative.
During a Monday news conference, Brownsville Police displayed what appeared to be Alvarez’s rap sheet, showing a range of charges against him. Previously, Alvarez has been charged with counts of assault, aggravated assault, drug possession, vehicle burglary, driving while intoxicated, theft, resisting arrest, and more, according to a poster that officials displayed Monday.
Authorities said they could not verify claims from witnesses that Alvarez shouted insults against illegal immigrants and raised his middle finger before plowing into pedestrians. At the same time, authorities said they are awaiting a toxicology report to determine whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.
In Monday’s press conference, Abbott also made reference to the mass shooting in Allen, Texas, that left eight dead. Abbot said met with local officials to “get to the bottom of what’s going on.”
Reuters contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times