Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to send immigrants who illegally cross the border to Washington, D.C., ahead of an expected surge in unlawful border crossings.
The Republican governor held a press conference in Weslaco, Texas, on Wednesday to illustrate “how Texas is securing the border in the wake of [President Joe] Biden’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions.”
“To help local officials whose communities are being overwhelmed by hordes of illegal immigrants who are being dropped off by the Biden administration, Texas is providing charter buses to send illegal immigrants who have been dropped off by the Biden administration to Washington, D.C.," said Abbott.
“We are sending them to the United States Capitol, where the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border,” he added. Abbott designated Chief Nim Kidd of the Texas Division of Emergency Management as the person “in charge of this operation.”
Kidd, who appeared alongside Abbott at the press conference, reported that his team "has already begun communication with our local officials to identify pickup location points, resources have been ordered and we’ll be ready to implement our part of this plan tomorrow morning.”
Abbott noted that border cities overwhelmed by the large numbers of illegal immigrants in their communities have been transporting them to San Antonio.
“I’ve got a better idea," Abbott recalled telling leaders of the Texas border communities. "As opposed to busing these people to San Antonio, let’s continue the ride all the way to Washington, D.C.”
Kidd said that “in past disasters, we have pulled up to 900 buses for operations to do evacuations,” adding, “We will use as many buses as we need to follow the governor’s direction to get this done.” In response to a question from a reporter, Abbott explained that the migrants will be dropped off at “the steps of the United States Capitol.”
Abbott’s press conference comes after the Biden administration announced its intention to revoke Title 42, which allowed immigration officials to turn away border crossers due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control announced last week that it would terminate Title 42 on May 23 in light of “current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19.”
In a phone call to reporters, an official with the Department of Homeland Security predicted that without Title 42 in place, as many as 18,000 illegal immigrants could cross the border on a daily basis.
In a statement released last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas defended the CDC’s move and maintained that the federal government was prepared for the influx of migrants associated with the abandonment of Title 42: “We have put in place a comprehensive, whole-of-government strategy to manage any potential increase in the number of migrants encountered at our border.”
Mayorkas insisted that “we are increasing our capacity to process new arrivals, evaluate asylum requests, and quickly remove those who do not qualify for protection,” vowing to “increase personnel and resources as needed and have already redeployed more than 600 law enforcement officers to the border.” He also stated that “we are referring smugglers and certain border crossers for criminal prosecution.”
“Over the next two months, we are putting in place additional, appropriate COVID-19 protocols, including ramping up our vaccination program," said Mayorkas.
"The root causes fueling irregular migration predate today’s announcement, and we have experienced increases in migration over the past decade and long before. DHS is always preparing for the ebb and flow of migration patterns.”
Even with Title 42 in place, the U.S.-Mexico border saw a surge in border crossings since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021.
Statistics compiled by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reveal that the number of land encounters at the southwest border increased dramatically from 458,088 in fiscal year 2020 to 1,734,686 in fiscal year 2021, which began in October 2020. With five months of statistics compiled for fiscal year 2022, 838,685 migrants have crossed the border so far.
In February 2021, the Biden administration’s first full month in office, 101,099 migrants crossed the southwest border. The number of crossings consistently rose before reaching a record high of 213,593 in August 2021. Since then, the number of monthly illegal border crossings has remained above 150,000.
Critics of the Biden administration have attributed the rise in border crossings to its discontinuation of the Migrant Protection Protocols, which required those seeking asylum to remain in Mexico while their asylum claims were adjudicated.
Pushback against the Biden administration’s move to revoke Title 42 extends far beyond Abbott, with the Republican attorneys general of Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri filing a lawsuit in federal court asking a judge to vacate the termination order.
If the predictions of 18,000 illegal border crossings per day come to fruition, that would amount to roughly 540,000 per month and more than six million per year. Those figures would more than double the record number of border crossings measured in August 2021 and the nearly two million border crossings in fiscal year 2021.
Abbott is not the first governor to suggest sending illegal immigrants to Democratic strongholds or the homes of Democratic politicians. Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis previously expressed interest in sending illegal immigrants in his state to Delaware, Biden’s home state.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org