AUSTIN, Texas — Texas will begin busing migrants to the steps of the U.S. Capitol and inspecting vehicles driven in from Mexico, Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Wednesday in what he called an “unprecedented” response to illegal immigration.
The additional inspections at the international ports of entry will “dramatically slow traffic from Mexico to Texas,” Abbott acknowledged.
The inspections are aimed at finding smugglers bringing undocumented immigrants, fentanyl “and other illegal cargo” from Mexico, the Republican governor said at a press conference in Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley.
Abbott said the steps are necessary because the federal government has failed to curb illegal immigration.
Texas emergency management officials will begin chartering buses so it can send undocumented immigrants who have been detained after crossing the border to Washington, D.C., he said.
The buses will “send these illegal immigrants who’ve been dropped off by the Biden administration to Washington, D.C. We are sending them to the U.S. Capitol,” Abbott said.
For several days, Abbott has been saying that the state anticipates a surge in migrants next month, when the federal government lifts a public-health order known as Title 42 that has been used to quickly expel migrants at the U.S.-Mexico order.
He acknowledged that “safety inspections” of the thousands of vehicles that cross the border at points of entry each day will clog traffic. However, the move is necessary, Abbott said.
“A zero tolerance policy for unsafe vehicles smuggling migrants across the border is being implemented immediately,” he said.
Abbott said the inspections and use of charter buses will be supplemented by “mass migration rehearsals” by the state’s National Guard.
The rehearsals will include boat blockades, ship container blockades and erection of razor wire at low water crossings and high traffic areas, said the governor and Maj. Gen. Thomas M. Suelzer, the state’s adjutant general whom Abbott recently appointed.
Abbott said the National Guard would begin preparation Thursday. Certain Guard soldiers and state police officers patrolling the border region will be equipped with gear to combat potential violence, the governor also said.
“All troopers and specially trained National Guard will be equipped with riot gear in case of potential caravan violence,” he said.
The actions comprise the first phase of Texas’ response to an anticipated increase in border crossings after the administration of President Joe Biden lifts a Title 42 order imposed by former President Donald Trump after the outbreak of coronavirus.
“Texas will continue to evaluate threats that are posed by the (Biden) administration’s open border policies and these unprecedented illegal border crossings,” he said.
Other stages will be announced next week, Abbott said as he concluded the news conference.