MISSION, Texas (KVEO) — Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) on Tuesday after meeting with officials to discuss the growing numbers of undocumented migrants streaming into the region.
During his visit, Abbott took an aerial tour of the border. He mentioned seeing migrants crossing the border illegally during his flight.
“As we were flying over the region we did see people crossing the border illegally and making their way across the river onto the Texas side of the border. We saw an ICE detention center as well as other holding facilities,” described Abbott.
Later in the press conference, he mentioned the migrants appeared to be “family units.”
The governor spoke on the numbers provided by border officials, vaccines for federal agents at the border, and tactics being put in place at the border.
“There is a crisis on the Texas border right now with the overwhelming number of people who are coming across the border. This crisis is a result of President Biden’s open border policies. It invites illegal immigration and is creating a humanitarian crisis in Texas right now and will grow increasingly worse by the day,” said Abbott.
A White House spokesperson told KVEO that the Biden administration has on multiple occasions made it “clear” to those attempting to cross the southern border that “now is not the time to come.”
The vast majority of migrants attempting to enter the United States unlawfully right now will be turned away.
We are working through comprehensive reform to our nation’s immigration system, with a specific focus on remedying the ineffective and immoral policies of the previous Administration and that will take time.White House spokesperson.
The governor mentioned the “overwhelming number of people” is due to the recent move by the Biden Administration to end the ‘remain in Mexico’ policy, or Migrant Protection Protocols program.
The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) March 3, 2021
The Biden Admin. must IMMEDIATELY end this callous act that exposes Texans & Americans to COVID.
Abbott said the move is overwhelming federal border agents, which the governor states is a tactic use by cartels to get pass authorities.
“Because of the volume of people coming across, the border patrol that makes the arrest, they have to engage quite literally in babysitting… and while they’re doing babysitting, that provides an opportunity for the cartels to bring other people across the border illegally,” said Abbott. “The strategy of the cartels is to overwhelm border patrol agents […] it’s during those moments the cartels will bring across the border the even more dangerous elements.”
In regards to testing migrants for COVID-19, a White House spokesperson told KVEO that “DHS and FEMA stepped in and worked with local mayors, NGOs and public health officials in Texas to implement a system to fully provide and cover costs for testing and, as needed, isolation and quarantine for families released from Border Patrol facilities.”
But Governor Abbott decided to reject DHS’s agreement with the Texan local authorities that would enable the very support for testing of migrant families that the governor says he wants.White House spokesperson.
Abbott called on funding for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to create detention facilities, that he said would help the area as Border Patrol does not have enough resources.
“The Biden administration does not want to talk about ICE…[it] is essential in this entire process and we expect the President to step up fully fund and actually add additional funding to the ICE program…”
Abbott also spoke on the lack of vaccines for federal agents, stating those patrolling the border should be a priority for the federal government.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokes person releases the following statement addressing vaccine distribution:
There is no higher priority than the health and safety of our workforce. On January 25, DHS established Operation Vaccinate Our Workforce (Operation VOW) to accelerate the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to our personnel. Currently over 64,000 frontline DHS employees, including members of the U.S. Border Patrol, have received a vaccination.DHS Spokesperson
In January, Border Report spoke to Congressman Henry Cuellar who stated he was working to get vaccines to agents in the Rio Grande Valley. Cuellar said he had reached out to Veterans Affairs offices as well as local county and state officials along the Southwest border asking they put aside vials of the vaccine specifically for the thousands of Border Patrol and CBP officials.
The governor stated he had received numerous calls about ranchers in the region regarding a “dramatic increase” of individuals crossing through their property.
Those types of calls were what led the governor to launch Operation Loan Star with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
The operation deploys security personnel to border areas deemed as a high threat to attempt to deny smugglers the ability to move people and drugs into Texas.
DPS Director Steve McCraw said officers are ready to help border officials. He talked about the importance of securing the border as he believes border problems affect the entire state and even the country.
“As long as cartels are allowed to lure, entice, to bring women and children into the U.S. they’ll be preyed upon. The depravity of the Mexican cartels is unseen by an organized crime group ever… They’re a domestic security threat to the government of Mexico… They’re an enemy to Texas and an enemy to the United States,” said McCraw.
Abbott mentioned the funding provided through the state of Texas will allow DPS to hire and staff properly to effectively provide the security they aim to.
At the press conference, Adjutant General of the Texas National Guard Tracy Norris also spoke on the number of troops being sent to the border.
Norris stated there will be deploying over 500 individuals and mentioned most would be familiar with the South Texas border.
National President for Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd, also spoke at the press conference on border security.
Judd shared various plans he believes would best be suited to address the border, funding for resources being the focal point. He stated the current policies “… encourage women and children to put themselves in the hands of these dangerous individuals [..] we’re seeing the abuse we’re seeing the rape we’re even seeing the murder of these individuals because policy is allowing them to generate profit.”
Abbott wrapped the press conference by stating the Biden Administration needed to use ICE to address border issues, adding they want to “downplay” the event going on at the border.
“The president has not recognized the role that ICE plays in this entire process,” said Abbott. “However, because of federal laws, it is essential that the federal government also provide additional funding for judges, for magistrates…to comply with the timeline centers that are required by the federal laws.”
According to Border Report, El Paso is set to receive two daily flights from the Rio Grande Valley carrying 135 individuals. That’s a total of 270 migrants per day.
The governor’s visit to the Rio Grande Valley comes a day before his new order, which removes the mask mandate and opens Texas at 100%, takes effect.