Expensive Texas border plan has not been effective in curbing immigrant crossings

Expensive Texas Border Plan Has Not Been Effective In Curbing Immigrant Crossings

AUSTIN, Texas — The smuggling attempt that recently killed 53 migrants in Texas, the deadliest in U.S. history, highlights the limitations of Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s massive border security operation.

Following the tragedy, Abbott ordered state troopers to inspect more trucks, again expanding a border security mission that has cost billions of dollars, given the National Guard arrest authority and bused migrants. to Washington, D.C.

Yet a year after they began, Abbott’s plans have not reduced the number of people crossing the border.

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Along the Texas border, where authorities say the fatal tractor-trailer journey began Monday, authorities stopped migrants from crossing illegally 523,000 times between January and May, 417,000 more than the same period last year. The number reflects how, on the border with Mexico, crossings are at their highest level in two decades or so.

The deadliest human smuggling attempt in American history illustrates the imitations of Abbott’s massive border apparatus at a time when the two-term governor, who is running for re-election in November, blames the administration of President Joe Biden.

Migrant advocates have responded to Abbott’s criticism by saying that Biden is focused on law enforcement.

“Texas is going to take action to do our part to reduce illegal immigration into the country,” the governor said Wednesday in the border town of Eagle Pass.

He said state police will begin inspecting more tractor-trailers in the wake of the tragedy. He did not elaborate on the size or location of the inspection checkpoints, but unlike an inspection effort three months ago that brought traffic to a standstill for a week at the state line, agents are not going to check every tractor-trailer enter Texas.

The Texas Department of Public Safety did not respond to questions Friday about how many trucks had been inspected since the governor’s order or whether migrants had been found.

Critics have questioned the transparency and statistics of what is now a $3 billion mission since the so-called Operation Lone Star launched in the spring of 2021. Some arrests, even for small amounts of marijuana at traffic stops, appear not have nothing to do with border security. Following the hasty deployment of the National Guard, some members complained of low morale, late pay and little to do.

Since April, Abbott has offered migrants bus rides to Washington, saying he was bringing the migration issue to the doorsteps of Congress. So far, 3,000 migrants have made the journey at a cost of more than $5 million.

“What Greg Abbott wants to do is ‘gotcha’ phrases and gestures, with no real solutions,” said Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, whose district includes the secondary road near San Antonio where the truck was discovered abandoned. “He is spending 10.00 million supposedly to protect the border and has not done a single thing to solve the situation.”

US border authorities are stopping migrants at the southern border more times than they have 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 expelled under a public health clearance known as “Title 42” face no legal consequences, encouraging repeated attempts. Authorities say that 25% of the encounters in May were with people who had already been detained at least once in the previous year.

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