Texas Governor Greg Abbott met with local and state agencies in Eagle Pass on Monday, the day Title 42 was to be lifted.
On Friday, a federal judge blocked a plan by the Biden administration to lift Title 42, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health policy related to expelling migrants seeking asylum.
The governor held a press conference following his meeting with border security, law enforcement and local leaders.
Abbott detailed several strategies being implemented or expanded to ‘thwart’ Mexican drug cartels’ efforts to smuggle migrants across the U.S. Mexico border.
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One strategy is to deploy additional barriers like razor wire to make it more difficult to cross into Texas, “covering every inch of the border” except for federal or private property, said Abbott.
The idea is to funnel migrants away from the Rio Grande to ports of entry.
News from around the state of Texas.
Abbott said local law enforcement behind these barriers will continue making arrests ‘to send the message that people who are crossing between the ports of entry, you’re subject to arrest and you will be trespassing.’
The governor also vowed to increase the number of bus trips with willing migrants processed at the border to Washington D.C. as a symbol of the Biden administration’s ‘Open Border Policies.’
As of today, 45 buses have transported migrants to the nation’s capital, he said.
Meanwhile, communities like Laredo have become ‘overflow cities’ for other border towns like Del Rio, Eagle Pass and even Yuma, Arizona.
Faith-based shelters in Laredo continue to brace for any possible surge at their border or anywhere along the U.S. - Mexico border while caring for thousands of undocumented migrants who have entered the U.S. despite Title 42 still being in place.
NBC 5 met a young mother at a shelter in Laredo on Monday.
She said her name is Tania. She’s from Honduras.
She sat quietly cradling her 8-month-old daughter awaiting a bus ride to Corpus Christi to reunite with a cousin.
Tears flowed as she explained how difficult it was for her and others to leave their home countries.
“We are suffering, risking our children’s lives,” she said in Spanish. “We are not bad people.”
Tania said she had no choice but to leave after her family received constant threats from local gangs.
There are scars on her face and neck, she says, of her fighting back against people who almost kidnapped her daughter in Mexico.
Tania says she crossed illegally from Piedras Negras, Mexico, into Eagle, Pass, Texas.
While Title 42 is still in place, there are exceptions and immigration policies that have allowed thousands of undocumented migrants into the country to face an immigration judge.
Tania says she simply explained her situation and was allowed in. She plans to seek asylum given the threats in Honduras and the attempted kidnapping in Mexico.
Many migrants are being bussed to processing centers in Laredo from cities with far greater numbers of illegal crossings to the south and north.
Laredo, a city with far fewer illegal crossings than other border towns, is in a unique situation.
“Reason being is Nuevo Laredo is basically run by cartels,” said Joe Barron, director of the faith-based Laredo non-profit Holding Institute.
According to local law enforcement, drug cartels have taken control of border crossings in Nuevo Laredo.
Migrants cannot cross without ‘using their services,’ said Laredo DPS Sgt. Erick Estrada.
If migrants attempt to cross the Rio Grande on their own, cartels typically have members on the U.S. side that will find and punish them, he said.
Migrants typically steer-clear of Nuevo Laredo, added Barron.
Barron formed part of a virtual conference call on Monday with 9 partner shelters across the border in Nuevo Laredo where it was revealed approximately 3,000 Haitian migrants were able to walk into Nuevo Laredo without any issues overnight.
“That’s never happened before,” said a stunned Barron.
The new group joins an estimated 5,000 migrants who have been waiting in cramped Mexican camps for up to two years.
Barron worries they will become so frustrated they will rush the border like Haitian migrants did in Del Rio in 2021 creating a makeshift camp underneath the international bridge.
When asked what he hopes and fears in the coming days and weeks ahead, Barron said:
“Biggest hope is that it’s a controlled chaos. The greatest fear is that all hell breaks loose.”
Migrants are tested for COVID-19 and offered a COVID vaccine at the shelter, said Barrón.
The governor said he has not yet heard from President Biden or Vice President Kamala Harris who was tasked with addressing the root causes of migration.
Abbott did not respond to one reporter’s repeated question about whether having razor wire as deterrence for migrants is cruel, but DPS Director Steve McGraw volunteered to respond at the end of the press conference by saying: “Wire is not cruel, the cartels are cruel and what they do to women and children.”