AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration Tuesday in 34 counties along Texas’ border with Mexico in response to, what he called, an “ongoing surge” of illegal immigration being neglected by the federal government.
Abbott’s order authorizes all available state resources to assist state and local law enforcement to protect Texans from property damage, trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking.
“President Biden’s open-border policies have paved the way for dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers, and deadly drugs like fentanyl to pour into our communities,” Abbott said in a statement. “Texas continues to step up to confront the border crisis in the federal government’s absence, but more must be done.”
The order directs the Texas Commission on Jail Standards to work with border counties to expand capacity for detention and calls on the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to end licenses for child care facilities involved in federal contracts to shelter or detain undocumented immigrants.
KXAN requested guidance from HHSC as to which facilities would be impacted, since federal migrant shelters in cities like Dallas and McAllen don’t require state licenses.
Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Laredo Democrat, is a frequent critic of the Biden administration’s approach to border security. However, he doesn’t support Abbott’s labeling of the situation at the border as a “disaster.”
“ I do not think that this is a disaster,” Cuellar told KXAN. “This is a state version of [former President Donald Trump] declaring a border emergency. I disagree with that.”
Cuellar chalked Abbott’s order up to politics. Shortly after declaring a disaster at the border, Abbott announced that he received an endorsement from Trump for his gubernatorial re-election campaign.