State and federal officials gear up for visits to Texas-Mexico border
AUSTIN, Texas - Gov. Greg Abbott is gearing up for another visit to the Texas-Mexico border, as the Biden administration plans a visit of its own later this week.
The trips come as the influx of migrants trying to cross the border appears not to be slowing down.
Abbott will be joined in Mission, Texas, on Wednesday, by Republican governors from 10 other states, including Oklahoma and Arizona. They will hold a press conference on the border crisis, alongside Texas officials from the Departments of Public Safety and Emergency Management, as well as the Texas Military Department. Officials from the National Border Patrol Council will also be in attendance.
The press conference is being planned as Gov. Abbott says the Texas National Guard is preparing for increased caravans of migrants at the southern border. Panama’s foreign minister recently warned U.S. officials that there are more than 60,000 more Haitian migrants who have moved through Panama and are now heading north toward the United States.
National Guard troops are working with DPS to fortify areas of the border where people are crossing illegally. DPS says the state has put up temporary fencing at the border to divert people to areas with more resources. Additionally, the Texas Legislature has allocated $3 billion for border security efforts, which Abbott says include building a wall.
"We have thousands of personnel on the border as we speak right now to ensure that we are going to be guarding the safety and security of the people of the state of Texas as much as possible and making arrests as much as possible," said Abbott.
Meanwhile, Abbott is appealing FEMA’s decision not to declare a federal emergency at the Texas-Mexico border. The Governor had written a letter to President Joe Biden two weeks ago, requesting that declaration amid the influx of 15,000 Haitian migrants. Abbott now says the President has "turned his back on Texans" living along the border.
However, the Biden Administration says it is handling the border crisis. The White House has announced it’s sending its own delegation to Mexico City on Friday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Attorney General Merrick Garland and others will take part in what is described as a "high-level dialogue" with Mexican officials about security challenges at the border. That conversation will reportedly tackle problems including trans-border crime and human rights issues.
The visits come as the Texas DPS Director, Col. Steve McCraw, says counties at the border are not equipped to handle the number of migrants who are being arrested. He testified in front of a House committee Monday, where he was pressed on why hundreds of migrants have been arrested for trespassing, but their cases have not been prosecuted. Val Verde and Kinney County prosecutors say they released more than 200 defendants because they had been jailed without charges being filed for more than 15 days. McCraw says DPS has been arresting people for trespassing, but mainly if troopers have probable cause to believe they might be smuggling people or illegal drugs.
"For example, we're not going to make criminal trespass arrests on families," said McCraw. "It really had nothing to do with troopers, but it had to do with being overwhelmed. Kinney county was overwhelmed with arrests, and not having the staff to be able to process those."
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