Texas Governor Greg Abbott has begun taking stricter measures to crack down on immigration and drug smuggling across the U.S.-Mexico border (Tony Webster, Flickr)
In recent months, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has deployed new tactics in response to a recent surge of migrants on the U.S. southern border. Individuals, including top Texas Democrats, are slamming Abbott’s actions as “criminal” and “inhumane.” However, Abbott has proven to be relentless in his pursuit to stop illegal immigration across the Texan border.
Why the Emphasis?
In a June 16 press release from his office, Gov. Abbott vowed to stop the “smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into Texas,” as well as other criminally related behaviors. This press release is in reference to the recent fentanyl crisis in Texas, along with the rising drug trend of smuggling cocaine, heroin, and marijuana. In 2022, Texas witnessed one of the largest increases in drug fatalities, including opioid-related deaths involving fentanyl. The Drug Enforcement Administration reports that most of the fentanyl found in the U.S. is smuggled through the U.S.-Mexico border. Given these alarming statistics, Abbott has used them to defend his emphasis on stopping illegal immigration.
Governor Abbott’s Migrant Buses
Starting in April 2022, Abbott began bussing migrants to Chicago, New York City, and Washington D.C., all large Democratic metropolitan areas. This program, created by Abbott, was originally part of a multibillion-dollar effort called Operation Lone Star to stop illegal border crossings. Now, over a year later, over 20,000 migrants have been displaced to Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Denver, and, more recently, Los Angeles.
Mayors in both New York City and Los Angeles have criticized Abbott’s actions, accusing him of treating “human beings as pawns.” However, Abbott continues to assert that the Democratic Party is at fault. Specifically, he blames President Joe Biden for his lack of support in strengthening Texas’ borders and stopping illegal immigrants before they enter the U.S.
Regardless of who is to blame for this bussing program, it is important to note the damaging toll this program has taken on human lives. One young girl sent on a bus to Philadelphia suffered from dehydration and a high fever, eventually needing hospitalization. More recently, in mid-June, a bus carrying 42 migrants heading to Los Angeles reportedly provided no food or water to the passengers during the 23-hour journey. Despite the controversy surrounding Abbott’s bussing program, he continues to persist in his goal to stop illegal immigration across Texas’ southern border.
Recent Actions By Abbott to Address Illegal Immigration
The Rio Grande, a natural boundary between Texas and Mexico, has become the focal point of Abbott’s latest efforts to halt migrants from crossing the border. On July 18, Abbott installed a 1,000-foot floating barrier on the Rio Grande near the city of Eagle Pass. He stated that the floating boundary is intended to discourage larger groups of individuals from attempting to cross. However, this initiative has resulted in a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) after Abbott rejected orders to remove the barriers. The DOJ’s lawsuit argues that Texas failed to comply with the River and Harbors Act. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta stated, “Texas has flouted federal law by installing a barrier in the Rio Grande without obtaining the required federal authorization.” She also cited concerns about public safety, threats to navigation, humanitarian issues, and diplomatic protests from Mexico in support of the DOJ’s lawsuit. In response to the case, Abbott wrote a letter to the Biden Administration dated July 24, declaring, “Texas will see you in court, Mr. President.”
Additionally, Abbott faces a personal lawsuit in a Texas state court over the floating barrier. Eagle Pass resident and local kayak business owner Jessie Fuentes sued Abbott on July 7, claiming that Abbott’s actions were “depriving him of his livelihood” and that he lacked the legal authority to control an international natural boundary.
Abbott continues to assert that his border actions are essential to maintaining safety for Texans and migrants attempting to cross the border. He has defended the floating boundary on social media as a “tactical marine barrier,” underscoring his commitment to taking whatever measures are necessary to prevent migrants from crossing the southern border.
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