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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
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First bus carrying migrants from Texas arrives in DC as governor faces backlash

“Biden refuses to come see the mess he’s made at the border…so Texas is bringing the border to him,” Governor Greg Abbott said in a tweet.

AUSTIN, Texas (CN) — Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s new policy allowing for the voluntary relocation of undocumented migrants has been utilized as the first charter bus carrying undocumented migrants from Texas to Washington, D.C., arrived Wednesday morning. But the Republican governor is taking heat from all sides for how other parts of his directive are impacting trade with Mexico.

Last week, Abbott announced that he would be directing the Texas Division of Emergency Management to coordinate the voluntary transportation of migrants from the Lone Star State to the nation’s capital. In addition, the Department of Public Safety was directed to conduct enhanced safety checks of all vehicles crossing into the state.

During a press conference, the governor said the busing of migrants is to allow the Biden administration to "be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border.” In a Wednesday morning tweet, Abbott wrote, "Biden refuses to come see the mess he’s made at the border...So Texas is bringing the border to him."

These two directives, along with several other measures the state is taking to deter unlawful entry into the state, were handed down by Abbott in response to the Biden administration’s plan to end Title 42, a pandemic-era order that allowed for the expulsion of undocumented migrants to control the spread of Covid-19.

The bus that arrived in Washington on Wednesday came from Del Rio, Texas, a border community west of San Antonio. Around a dozen migrants were dropped off mere blocks away from the U.S. Capitol building. 

While the first bus of migrants arrived in the national's capital, truck drivers faced hours-long delays to get into Texas due to the new inspections imposed by the governor. Drivers in El Paso have reportedly been delayed for over six hours. In McAllen, Mexican commercial truck divers have blocked all north and southbound lanes on the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, one of the busiest border crossings in the state, in protest of Abbott’s directive.

The National Freight Transportation Chamber has estimated around 3,000 trucks cross the Pharr-Reynosa bridge every day. The port of entry is the largest land port for vegetable produce entering the U.S.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller called on Abbott to halt his directive, saying it will have little effect on curbing unlawful entries and improving motor vehicle safety. 

In an open letter to Abbott on Tuesday, Miller wrote that the policy "will hurt Texas and American consumers by driving up already skyrocketing food prices, worsening ongoing supply chain disruptions, causing massive produce shortages, and saddling Texas and American companies with untold losses.”

As head of the Texas Department of Agriculture, Miller is responsible for overseeing the state's agricultural production, economic development and consumer protection. The Republican official has previously spoken out against the Biden administration's approach to border policy, even going as far as to say President Joe Biden has caused an “invasion” on the southern border.

White House Press Secretay Jen Psaki used the same argument as Miller in a statement denouncing the enhanced inspections.

“Governor Abbott’s unnecessary and redundant inspections of trucks transiting ports of entry between Texas and Mexico are causing significant disruptions to the food and automobile supply chains… and raising prices for families in Texas and across the country,” Psaki said Wednesday morning.   

Other Texas Republicans have also criticized Abbott for his new policy. Allen West, former chairman of the Texas GOP and candidate for governor, called the directives a “stuck on stupid” idea in a post on Twitter. 

“Can someone articulate to me the difference between that and the Biden administration's use of taxpayer funds to fly and bus illegals all over the country?” West asked in a post reacting to the arrival of the first bus in Washington. “It appears that Biden and Abbott are both using taxpayer resources to aid and abet human trafficking.”

Critics of Abbott often assert that his recent actions are politically motivated to help him in his run for a third four-year term as governor of the Lone Star State. His Democratic opponent, Beto O’Rourke, has called the governor’s plans a stunt and accused him of creating chaos along the border. O’Rourke echoed the economic and consumer concerns during a press conference in McAllen on Tuesday.

In his bid to be Texas’ next governor, O’Rourke has promised to end Abbott’s border initiatives.

After a meeting Wednesday with Samuel Alejandro García Sepúlveda, the Mexican governor of the state of Nuevo Leon, Abbott announced that the sole bridge the two states share will return to normal effective immediately as a part of an agreement they reached.

"Since Nuevo Leon has increased security on its side of the border, the Texas Department of Public Safety can return to its previous practice of random searches of vehicles," Abbott said during a press conference. 

Texas DPS officers will make only random safety inspections of vehicles, its standard practice before the governor's directive, as long as officials in the Mexican state continue securing their side of the southern border. Abbott said he has also been in contact with the governors of Chihuahua, Coahuila and Tamaulipas who all are connected to Texas by a bridge. 

"I look forward to working with all of them toward achieving results similar to what we are achieving today with Governor Garcia," Abbott said.

Enhanced safety inspections will continue to be conducted along those ports of entry in the meantime. 

So far, a legal challenge has yet to be filed over the new border policy. However, during the governor’s announcement of the directives, Abbott said he would not be surprised by a lawsuit. 

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