The state of Texas will begin transporting cooperating illegal immigrants to the steps of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday.
Anticipating 18,000 illegal immigrants crossing the U.S. border every day after Title 42 ends May 24, Abbott said the transportation of those entering the U.S. illegally to the national capital is one of several new measures the state is taking to thwart illegal immigration into Texas.
Title 42, instituted by former President Donald Trump, allowed for the expulsion of illegal immigrants at the border to help prevent the spread of COVID. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday it would end the policy, citing the decline in the severity of COVID.
Abbott met Wednesday with law enforcement officials in Del Rio and Weslaco, Texas, where he announced a series of new strategies being added to Operation Lone Star, Texas’ border security effort launched in March 2021 in response to President Joe Biden's open border policies.
The Texas measures, designed to curtail Mexican cartel-driven human and drug smuggling, include using taxpayer money to transport illegal immigrants from Texas to Washington, D.C., he said.
“We are sending them to the U.S. Capitol where the Biden administration will more immediately be able to address the needs of the people that they are allowing to cross our border,” he said.
The Texas Department of Emergency Management will oversee the operation, which begins Thursday. TDEM Chief Nim Kidd said at least 900 charter buses are available.
The state will transport people who’ve been processed and released from federal custody via charter buses or commercial flights, the governor’s office clarified in a news release. Transportation is voluntary.
“A migrant must volunteer to be transported and show documentation from DHS,” the governor’s office said. “Mayors and county judges can notify TDEM of any DHS-facilitated drop-off of migrants in their communities so that the agency can provide appropriate transportation.”
The Texas National Guard is also building barricades to use non-lethal means to block illegal entry into Texas. Working with DPS, the guard is deploying boat blockades on the Rio Grande River at certain key points on the Texas side of the river, deploying razor wire in low water crossings in high traffic areas, and creating container blockades to drive people away from low water crossings.
The National Guard will begin its first phase of mass migration rehearsals Thursday in anticipation of a massive influx of people. This includes maritime and civil disturbance capabilities. All state troopers and National Guard members will be equipped with riot gear anticipating violence created by migrant caravans.
“If you’re a caravan organizer and you think you’re going to overrun a port of entry, we’ll be there waiting for you,” Texas Military Department Adjutant General Major General Thomas Suelzer said.
Texans living along the southern border should expect to see increased military activity, he said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety on Wednesday began conducting enhanced vehicle inspections at 20 international crossing locations in Texas. The operation began at 4 p.m., Texas DPS Chief Steve McCraw said.
“Commercial vehicles, and the trucking industry are vital to our way of life,” McCraw said. The majority of owners comply with transportation regulations, he said, but the cartels “could care less.” They don’t care about how many people they kill and continue to violate motor vehicle laws, he said.
DPS officers will be targeting commercial vehicles that appear to be unsafe because they may be used by cartels to smuggle people.
Roughly 4.8 million commercial vehicles already enter Texas, McCraw said. After Title 42 is eliminated, he expects this number to increase significantly. Texas DPS inspections are expected to slow traffic at ports of entry.
The Biden administration has said it anticipates 500,000 people entering the U.S. illegally per month from over 150 countries beginning May 24. Rather than following immigration law and denying entry or facilitating deportations, the federal government, working with nongovernmental organizations, is facilitating the transfer of illegal immigrants throughout the U.S.
Unless the policy changes or is halted, by the end of this year, more people will have entered the U.S. illegally than those living in Los Angeles, America’s second-largest city, Abbott said. The number is “unprecedented and dangerous,” he said, after roughly 2 million were already apprehended or encountered last year. These numbers exclude those who evade capture by law enforcement.
In one year, Texas DPS and local law enforcement have apprehended more than 200,000 illegal immigrants, arrested more than 11,000 people including cartel members, drug smugglers and cop killers, Abbott said.
“They’ve also seized more fentanyl that was enough to kill every man, woman and child in Texas,” he said.
Texas has already begun to build its own border wall on state land and the Texas legislature last year allocated $3 billion to border security efforts.
Some say Abbott is not doing enough and have called on him to declare increased illegal immigration by transnational criminal organizations an invasion.