Following the horror of a human smuggling attempt that left 53 dead, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott ordered state police to inspect more trucks, again expanding a border security mission that has cost billions, given the arrest powers of the National Guard and transporting the migrants to Washington. , direct current
What Abbott’s tightening plans haven’t accomplished in the year since he began implementing them is curb the number of people crossing the border.
How did the truck where 53 migrants died pass a US border checkpoint?
Along the border in Texas, where authorities say Monday’s fatal tractor-trailer journey began, US authorities stopped migrants from crossing illegally 523,000 times between January and May, up from 417,000 during the same period ago. one year. It reflects how, across the nation’s southern border, crossings are at or near their highest level in about two decades.
The deadliest smuggling attempt in US history illustrated the limitations of Abbott’s massive border apparatus as the two-term governor, who is running for re-election in November, points the finger at President Joe Biden. Immigration advocates disagree with Abbott’s criticism, saying Biden is focused on the app.
“Texas is going to take action to do our part to try to reduce illegal immigration coming into our country,” Abbott said Wednesday while at the border in the city of Eagle Pass.
He said state police would begin inspecting more tractor-trailers in the wake of the tragedy. He did not provide details on the scope or location of the inspections. But unlike an inspection effort three months ago that paralyzed the state’s 1,200-mile (1,930-kilometer) border for a week, troopers aren’t checking every tractor-trailer as it enters Texas.
The Texas Department of Public Safety did not respond to questions Friday about how many trucks have been inspected since the governor’s order or if any migrants have been found.
Critics have questioned the transparency and metrics of what is now a $3 billion mission since Operation Lone Star launched in the spring of 2021. Some arrests, including for small amounts of marijuana during traffic stops, they seem to have little to do with the border. security. After a hasty deployment of the Texas National Guard, some members complained of low morale, late pay, and little to do.
Since April, Abbott has offered bus rides to Washington, DC, to immigrants crossing the border, saying he was bringing immigration to the doorstep of Congress. So far, some 3,000 migrants have made the journey at a cost of more than $5 million.
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“Greg Abbott, all he wants to do is catch phrases and stunts with no real solution,” said state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat whose district includes the frontage road in San Antonio where the truck was found abandoned. “He has spent over $10 billion supposedly securing the border and has done nothing to fix this.”
US border authorities are apprehending migrants more frequently at the southern border than at any time in at least two decades. Migrants were stopped nearly 240,000 times in May, a third more than a year ago.
Comparisons with pre-pandemic levels are tricky because migrants removed under a public health authority known as Title 42 face no legal consequences, encouraging repeat attempts. Authorities say that 25% of encounters in May were with people who had been detained at least once in the previous year.
Abbott’s earlier truck inspection effort provoked a huge backlash and caused heavy economic loss, with soldiers finding no immigrants or drugs.
Abbott stopped the controls after signing agreements with the governors of Mexico’s four neighboring states, but warned he could re-impose them if he saw no improvement. The number of migrants who crossed in May was higher than in April.
Asked about it on Wednesday, Abbott said “accountability may come soon.” He also blamed Mexico’s federal government and said he needs to do more.
He says the operation has been successful overall, pointing to more than 4,000 immigrants arrested on state criminal charges of trespassing, 14,000 felony arrests and drug seizures. He also said that Texas has turned away more than 22,000 immigrants in the past year, a fraction of the attempts to cross the southern border in a single month.
Before Monday’s tragedy, the deadliest smuggling attempt in Texas was in 2003 when the bodies of 19 people were found dead in a suffocating trailer about 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of San Antonio. Jeff Vaden, a former federal prosecutor who helped prosecute that case, said sentences for migrant smuggling are not high enough.
“It’s not a deterrent for people who take that risk,” he said.
One of the first to visit some of the migrants pulled from the truck and hospitalized in San Antonio was Antonio Fernandez, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, which provides housing and assistance to migrants and their families.
Fernandez said that summer is usually a slower time, but not this year. A hotel used by Catholic Charities that usually houses 50 people recently filled to 100 each night, and now has eight staff members helping families with immigration, instead of just one.
“My conversations with a lot of these people, clearly, they don’t have anything in their countries,” Fernandez said. “They don’t have a life and they don’t feel safe. They are hungry. For them, the United States is not an option. It’s the only option they have.”
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