AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Thursday that directs the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to return detained undocumented immigrants to the border.
In a news release, the governor said in a statement, “I have authorized the Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety to begin returning illegal immigrants to the border to stop this criminal enterprise endangering our communities. As the challenges on the border continue to increase, Texas will continue to take action to address those challenges caused by the Biden Administration.”
“It is hard to say what exactly will happen to them because Abbott has stopped just short of saying he will actually deport them, because of course that is completely impossible for a state level authority to do,” said Denise Gilman, co-director of The Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas.
There are no details available right now about how this executive order will be enforced.
A White House official responded to Abbott’s order in a statement:
“Governor Abbott’s record on immigration doesn’t give us confidence in what he has cooked up now. His so-called Operation Lone Star put national guardsmen and law enforcement in dangerous situations and resulted in a logistical nightmare needing Federal rescue, and his secondary inspections of trucks crossing into Texas cost a billion dollars a week in trade at one bridge alone without turning up a single case of human or drug trafficking. President Biden is focused on real policy solutions to actually secure our border – installing new border technology, securing record levels of funding for the Department of Homeland Security, making over 2,800 arrests in the first three months of launching an unprecedented anti-smuggling campaign, and bringing 20 world leaders together for the first time to take collective responsibility to manage increased migration flows across the Western Hemisphere.”
Immigrant rights organization RAICES, which stands for the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, released a statement Thursday afternoon slamming Abbott’s order, calling it “another disgusting political stunt.”
“Abbott’s latest Executive Order increases the number of local Texas law enforcement officers now tasked with enforcing federal immigration law,” the RAICES statement read. “Not only is this yet another example of Abbott’s overreach of power but it’s also a huge waste of state taxpayer dollars. Texans should not have to foot the bill for Abbott’s political games.”
“We see it as being retaliation, we see it as being a political stunt, and we see it as dehumanizing the immigrant community,” said Adriana Quiroga with the Refugee and immigrant center for education and legal services.
“It builds on a narrative that Abbott has been using, suggesting that there is a very serious problem at the border, a crisis even an invasion,” said Gilman.
Abbott also announced Thursday an additional $30 million is going toward the controversial Texas border security initiative known as Operation Lone Star. This came a day after it became known that the U.S. Department of Justice is investigating the initiative for possible civil rights violations involving migrants.
The governor said his Public Safety Office is sending $30 million in additional grant funding for Texas cities and counties to enhance border security operations. This includes money to help stop the cross-border trafficking of drugs and humans, as well as stopping migrants from crossing the Rio Grande illegally into Texas.
Last month Abbott said the state will start additional checkpoints to target trucks like the one found in San Antonio with the bodies of 53 migrants inside. He also said DPS is creating two strike teams, each consisting of 20 troopers who will be “deployed immediately” to high-traffic crossing areas. DPS Director Steven McCraw said the teams will be along “smuggling corridors” to conduct surveillance and look for stolen vehicles.