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Gov. Abbott launches border task force ahead of Title 42's expiration

Once Title 42 is lifted, Abbott said that it will be a "catastrophic" event at the Texas border.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott spoke at the Austin airport Monday morning to provide an update regarding security at the southern border.

At 7 a.m. on Monday, May 8, Abbott spoke at a press conference held at the airport. Before the conference, it was alluded to that Abbott would discuss the current status of security at the United States-Mexico border. Abbott was joined by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw, the Texas Military Department Adjunct Gen. Seltzer and the Texas Border Czar Mike Banks. 

The first topic of discussion was Title 42, which is a policy that is enacted by the federal government when there is a contagious disease present. Former President Donald Trump enacted it at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, and it is currently set to expire on Thursday, May 11. 

Abbott stated that President Joe Biden is "laying down a welcome mat to people across the entire world" with the expiration of Title 42. Once Title 42 is lifted, Abbott said that it will be a "catastrophic" event at the Texas border. 

According to Abbott, the country saw the "lowest number of border crossings in decades" three years ago, when the pandemic first began and the border had been closed for nonessential travel.

"America is not open to people trying to come here illegally," Abbott said. 

To help mitigate illegal immigration at the border, Abbott said that the State of Texas has deployed up to 10,000 National Guard members and 1,200 DPS troopers, who have turned away upwards of 37,000 people attempting to cross the border.

Those law enforcement officials have also apprehended more than 37,000 people that did cross the border illegally, arrested 27,000 "dangerous criminals" and seized enough fentanyl to "kill every man, woman and child in the United States of America," according to Abbott.

Additionally, migrants have been bused across the country out of Texas through the state's Operation Lone Star, and Texas is the only state to have built its own border wall, according to Abbott. 

As part of a new effort to curb further illegal immigration, the Texas Tactical Border Force was formed. The National Guard provided the new force with C-130s and Blackhawks to deploy to "hotspots along the border to stop migrants attempting to enter Texas," Abbott explained. The force will also be supplied with materials that will assist members including aircraft, boats, night vision and riot gear for "anything they may encounter."

Abbott stated that he wants to enact laws to give Texas the "tools" to manage the border, including:

  • Making it a felony to cross the border from Mexico illegally
    • Allowing Texas to place people in jail or be returned to their original country
  • Making it a felony for anyone to operate or be involved with a "stash house"
  • Providing a minimum 10-year sentence to anyone smuggling drugs or people into the country

Also on Monday, Abbott said that more information would be provided later in the day after eight migrants were hit and killed by a truck in Brownsville on Sunday.

Abbott also said that officials were still waiting to figure out what occurred and why in regard to the shooting at an outlet mall in Allen, Texas, that resulted in the deaths of eight people.

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