Texas Governor Greg Abbott called on President Joe Biden to declare a federal emergency declaration over the crisis at the border Monday and give Texas access to federal resources that can be used to stem the flood of illegal immigrants.
Abbott sent a five-page request to Biden as the immigration and humanitarian crisis in Del Rio, Texas, continues. Thousands of illegal immigrants have flocked across the border and many are being kept in a makeshift holding pen underneath and overpass. Abbott has already declared a state of emergency along the southern border. In his request, Abbott wrote in part:
Border security is a federal responsibility; however, in response to the current situation, I have taken the appropriate action under state law by directing the execution of the state’s emergency management plan and by declaring a state of disaster on May 31, 2021, for multiple Texas counties across the state’s southern border.
I submit this request due to the overwhelming surge of individuals unlawfully attempting to cross the Texas-Mexico border in Val Verde County. These illegal crossings are aided by a dam on federal property, and thus under the jurisdiction of the federal government, which allows individuals to easily traverse the Rio Grande River. The rush of migrants increased from approximately 4,000 individuals on Wednesday, September 15, 2021, to over 16,000 migrants on Saturday, September 18, 2021. The entrance of illegal immigrants shows no signs of slowing. This surge poses life-threatening risks to residents of Val Verde County and is quickly overrunning law enforcement and health care and humanitarian resources which were never intended to be used in this capacity. Even the limited federal resources in the area are strained by the large number of individuals illegally crossing into Texas.
Abbott said that the influx of illegal migrants from Mexico and beyond has had a devastating impact on Texans.
“Texas residents’ property is being destroyed; crimes are occurring; humans, deadly drugs and illegal weapons are being smuggled into communities throughout the state; law enforcement is having to redirect their resources; and county judges and mayors are facing skyrocketing expenses. While Texans face the brunt of these negative impacts, it is common knowledge that border-related drugs, weapons, and crimes impact local jurisdictions across the United States,” Abbott wrote.
He also detailed the growing humanitarian crisis in Del Rio as thousands of illegal migrants are held underneath an overpass with little access to other resources such as food, water, and shelter.
“Families, including infants and children, need food, water, and medical supplies that the local government cannot supply. Thousands of families are immobilized in 100-degree heat as their numbers continue to swell as they wait to be processed by the approximately 64 federal agents in the area. Individuals are camping in squalid conditions and bathing in muddy river water, causing great health concerns,” the governor said.
The Biden administration has attempted to stem the tide of illegal migrants through public warnings that the border is closed. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a statement Monday claiming that illegal immigrants in the U.S. may face expulsion.
“We have reiterated that our borders are not open and people should not make the dangerous journey,” Mayorkas said. “Individuals and families are subject to border restrictions, including expulsion. Irregular migration poses a significant threat to the health and welfare of border communities and to the lives of the migrants themselves, and should not be attempted. If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s lives.”
Mayorkas’ message is being undercut by U.S. policy, however, according to one former field office director for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Tom Feeley, who previously led the Buffalo ICE field office, alleged that the Biden administration is releasing illegal migrants into the interior of the U.S. on a “grand scale.”
“It’s happening on a grand scale,” Feeley said. “They’re getting pounded every day fielding calls from headquarters about who they can release to make room for more people on the border. And the following week, they’re getting more calls almost daily, again, about who can you release to make room for more people on the border.”
“So basically all we’re doing is we’re catching them at the border, shipping them into the interior, releasing them and getting more and then releasing them and then getting more and releasing them,” he added.