On Wednesday, Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference to discuss his response to the expected influx of unlawful migrants after the Biden administration ends the Title 42 border policy on May 23.
Title 42 was a COVID-era policy implemented by the Trump administration that allowed authorities to turn away potential lawful and unlawful migrants quickly and aimed to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Abbott noted that Border Patrol is preparing for a surge that will bring unlawful migrant apprehensions at the southern border from the current number of 7,000 per day to 18,000 per day once Title 42 ends.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Abbott struck a harsh tone as he promised drastic, “unprecedented” action to curb what is expected to be a significant inrush of unlawful migrants coming to Texas.
Abbott stated that he would place state troopers in riot gear to meet unlawful migrants at the border and bus them directly to the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
“We are sending them to the United States Capitol where the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border,” he continued.
However, soon after the press conference, the governor’s office provided further clarification in a press release. The release explained that the relocation would be voluntary and only for migrants released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Those that provide paperwork showing they were processed and released from federal custody will be offered a chartered bus ride or flight to Washington, D.C. The policy will require the chartering of 900 buses.
People on the left and right of U.S. politics derided the plan to move unlawful migrants to the nation’s capital. Governor Abbott’s Democratic rival in November’s election, Beto O’Rourke, said the policy was bluster over substance.
“If Abbott focused on solutions instead of stunts, then Texas could have made some real progress on the issue over the last seven years,” he said.
“It’s a gimmick,” said Texas State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) in a tweet.
— Matt Schaefer (@RepMattSchaefer) April 6, 2022
“Any forcible busing of migrants across the country would be outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional,” Kate Huddleston, a staff attorney at ACLU of Texas, said in a statement. “Given that Abbott cannot dictate where people are sent, he has already backpedaled on this heinous plan, announcing that it will be only voluntary.”
The buses were just one policy revealed at Wednesday’s press conference. Abbott also said he intended to install more border fencing and boat blockades, as well as construct container blockades. He added razor wire would be placed in the high-traffic shallow waters of the Rio Grande River to deter unlawful migrants.
The governor also stated Wednesday that the Department of Public Safety would begin enhanced safety inspections of commercial vehicles coming through the Mexico border into Texas, as human smugglers have been known to use commercial trucks to transport people into the country. Abbott conceded that the move would “dramatically slow” the flow of traffic at the Texas border.
Abbott added that he would announce additional policies to curb unlawful migrant crossings next week because border officials are asking the state for urgent action.
“They know that it’s the Biden administration that caused this open border problem, and they expect the Biden administration to step up and respond and to fix the open border problem that they caused,” he said.
The number of unlawful migrants arrested at the southern border hit a record high in 2021. Still, the number was boosted by various repeat crossers who had been previously expelled under Title 42.