By Tom Ozimek
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said that he has deployed “elite” teams from the Texas National Guard to continue the effort of preventing illegal immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border while praising Texas troops for physically repelling people from trying to cross the border illegally near Brownsville.
Abbott told Fox News in an interview Wednesday that he has ordered several “elite” Texas National Guard teams to continue efforts to “repel” illegal immigrants from crossing the border after video emerged showing would be border crossers being rebuffed by Texas troops.
“First they are to put up barriers, whether it be the razor wire that you saw there or other barriers, and then have National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety either in front of it or behind it. Our goal is to repel people from coming into the country,” Abbott told the “Jesse Watters Primetime” program.
“We see locations like what was shown in that video, and whenever we see them, we block it,” he added.
Abbott was referring to a video that he remarked on earlier showing Texas National Guard soldiers working in conjunction with Texas Department of Public Safety troopers physically repelling people crossing the river illegally into Brownsville, Texas.
“Great work,” Abbott wrote. “President Joe Biden sent 1,500 troops to the border to do paperwork. Texas deployed trained soldiers and troopers to take real action and respond to the crisis.”
The White House and the Pentagon said on May 2 that the number of troops working along the border would be boosted from 2,500 to 4,000, with the additional 1,500 troops serving in a limited capacity, not engaging in law enforcement actions. They have been tasked with actions such as transportation, tracking and surveillance, and data entry.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) called the decision to deploy the additional 1,500 troops a “publicity stunt” that won’t stop what he said was a border crisis created by the Biden administration.
“President Biden wants to send troops to the border—not to secure it and enforce our immigration laws, but to process illegal immigrants faster,” Cotton said.
By contrast, Abbott has sought to dial up border security enforcement, telling Fox News in the interview that an 18-mile long razor wire barrier had been put up that blocked a localized surge in illegal border crossings “overnight.”
Asylum seekers have been showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border in huge numbers in anticipation of the end of the use of a Trump-era restriction known as Title 42, which was used to quickly expel illegal immigrants from the country back to Mexico.
Many people were trying to cross before Title 42 expires, spurred by fears that it may soon become more difficult to remain in the United States.
Laredo Mayor Victor Trevino told CNN that the border city is preparing for the end of Title 42 as if “it’s a hurricane coming.”
After the restrictions expire on May 11, people caught crossing the border illegally will not be allowed to return for five years and, if they do, they can face criminal prosecution under a new rule announced by the Biden administration to crack down on illegal crossings while creating new legal pathways for entry.
“Our plan will deliver results, but it will take time for those results to be fully realized,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Biden predicted on Tuesday that the U.S.-Mexico border will be “chaotic for a while” as the Title 42 restrictions end and his new border policies come into effect.
In anticipation of the surge in would-be illegal border crossings, Abbott earlier announced the deployment of a new Texas Tactical Border Force to the Texas-Mexico border to respond to what his office described as a “growing border crisis.”
With the move, Abbott said he was enhancing the Lone Star state’s “unprecedented” border security efforts with the tactical deployment of hundreds of Texas National Guard soldiers as the country braces for a surge in illegal immigration.
“With the ending of Title 42 on Thursday, President Biden is laying down the welcome mat to people across the entire world, but Texas is deploying our new Texas Tactical Border Force,” Abbott said in a statement.
“The Texas National Guard is loading Blackhawk helicopters and C-130s and deploying specially trained soldiers for the Texas Tactical Border Force, who will be deployed to hotspots all along the border to help intercept and repel large groups of migrants trying to enter Texas illegally,” he added.
The Texas Military Department said Tuesday that it had activated 545 service members at locations around Texas to bolster border security ahead of the expected elimination of Title 42.
“We have expanded our capabilities to include boat teams that patrol hundreds of river miles, drones and helicopters that detect illicit activity from the air, and brush teams, security points, and roving patrols that block and interdict illegal smuggling (drugs, weapons, and people) into Texas,” the Texas Military Department said in a statement.
Preparing for ‘The Unknown’
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said during an April 30 press conference that the Texas city is “getting prepared now for what we call the unknown.”
He called it “bothersome” that many illegal immigrants think they’ll be admitted to the United States without documentation once Title 42 ends.
“They’ve come in, really, with a false pretense that there will be open borders starting on May 11 and anyone that’s already in the United States will no longer be required to have proper documentation, and that is an untrue statement,” Leeser said.
“We are not opening the borders. The borders are not open today, and they will not be open on May 12,” he said.
Mayorkas said during a May 5 news conference that after Title 42 ends, the administration will use “expedited removal authorities” under Title 8 to expel illegal immigrants quickly.
The process of expelling an illegal immigrant takes longer under Title 8 than under Title 42.
Naveen Athrapully contributed to this report.