Martinique Monnroe; Getty Images
Texas Governor Greg Abbott wants more border patrol in the state due to a lot of illegal immigration taking place on the border. On January 10, Texas authorities effectively blocked Border Patrol agents from an Eagle Press area, which was approximately 2.5 miles in length and had various migrant trespassing. Shelby Park, the city park on the Rio Grande where a surge of migrant crossings took place, is now barricaded by a gate with razor wire, blocking off a lot of access, and impeding Border Patrol’s access as well. This is in large part due to the Texas Military Department “seizing and securing Shelby Park” after two children and a mother both drowned near the Rio Grande, causing Texas and U.S. officials to accuse each other of being the blame regarding this tragedy.
On Wednesday, January 10th, the Texas National Guard stopped the Border Patrol from putting mobile surveillance equipment inside Shelby Park, as reported by Robert Danley, the lead field coordinator for United States Customs and Border Protection in Del Rio. Texas has denied Border Patrol from accessing a lot of the border. The migrant encounters have dropped significantly, going from thousands of apprehensions to only 500 a day, beginning in early January.
A US Border Patrol agent watches over migrants waiting to be processed after crossing from Mexico into the United States on December 17 in Eagle Pass, Texas. John Moore; Getty Images
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration numbers have climbed to an all-time high, reaching 302,000 encounters in December 2023. Mexico was the single most common country of origin for United States border encounters last year, but Mexican nationals were less than 30% of the total number of migrants, when this number was more than 60% a little over a decade ago. With that being said, around 9,000 people who have attempted to get to the United States on the southern border were reported dead or missing in the previous 10 years. A decent amount of migrants do not make it past the Darién Gap, with half a million passing the gap in 2023 alone.
In December, Greg Abbott signed a bill to make illegal immigration a state crime, traveling to the Rio Grande Valley to fund his three-year effort to further block illegal immigration at the Texas-Mexico border and authorize Texas law enforcement authority to arrest any undocumented immigrants anywhere in the state. Senate Bill 3 is projected to spend over $1.5 billion in state money to build more barriers on the 1,200-mile border, which further allows for the state to spend a maximum of $40 million to allow state troopers to guard and patrol Colony Ridge, which is a magnet for undocumented immigrants, according to various far-right news publishers. It is now a class B misdemeanor, which entails up to 6 months in jail, and repeat offenders face a possibility of anywhere from two to 20 years in prison.
According to the Texas Government’s website, Governor Abbott, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), and the Texas National Guard are collaboratively working together to secure the border by stopping the smuggling of drugs, weapons, and people into the state of Texas and taking measures to prevent, detect, and interdict transnational criminal activity between ports of entry. Since the launch of Operation Lone Star, this multi-agency effort has directly resulted in over 479,000 illegal immigrant apprehensions, approximately 35,500 criminal arrests, and 32,300 felony charges. This is in large part due to the fentanyl crisis, with Texas law enforcement seizing more than 434 million lethal doses of fentanyl during the overall mission.
The state of Texas has openly opposed President Joe Biden’s “open border policies” and is funding this project with their own spending. However, it is not fair to label this lack of regulation solely on the current administration in office. President Biden inherited an immigration system in shambles, as the Trump administration cut off various legal pathways to citizenship, which left a lot of potential migrants having less options to enter the country. The Trump administration cut funding to various Central American countries, splurging an ineffective, expensive wall. The Trump administration tightened sanctions on Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua.
It’s evident that the State of Texas has been waiting for this to be resolved to their liking and their dissatisfaction can be understood by many far-righters. Illegal Immigration has been a topic of concern for many Americans and the residents of Texas are getting what many of them wished for, whether they like it or not. Will the new border patrol be effective and the long-term resolution for illegal immigration? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure. Immigration numbers will fall this year.
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