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Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asked fellow governors to send all the police and soldiers they could spare to help secure the Texas-Mexico border from a potential increase in migrant crossings with the expiration of a federal rule used to quickly expel people from the United States.
Although border encounters between law enforcement and migrants had dropped significantly in recent days, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was quick to heed the call, saying that he was prepared to commit 1,100 National Guard soldiers and law enforcement personnel.
Idaho Gov. Brad Little also offered the support of state troopers, Abbott noted.
Abbott said his request was spurred by the end of Title 42, a public health order issued during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed authorities to quickly expel migrants without letting them request asylum.
In his letter to governors, Abbott said Texas needed help handling a “flood” of migrants because the federal government estimated there are 150,000 migrants waiting to enter the country. He blamed President Joe Biden, as he has previously, for failing to secure the border, and said criminals and drug traffickers may travel from Mexico into communities across the country.
“In the federal government’s absence, we, as Governors, must band together to combat President Biden’s ongoing border crisis and ensure the safety and security that all Americans deserve,” Abbott wrote. He urged his fellow state executives to “send all available law enforcement personnel and resources” to the Rio Grande.
DeSantis, who also pledged to send five aircraft, 17 drones and 10 boats from Florida, echoed Abbott’s criticisms of the president.
A significant increase in border crossings, however, has yet to materialize. In the days after Title 42 ended Thursday, encounters between U.S. agents and migrants at the border dropped by half, a top Biden administration official said Monday.
Unlike during the pandemic, the Biden administration’s new rules allow migrants to make appointments to seek asylum.
Even with Title 42 in place, federal immigration officers apprehended 2.3 million migrants in the previous fiscal year, an all-time record. Last week, Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez issued a weeklong disaster declaration after hundreds of migrants gathered on the south bank of the Rio Grande in Brownsville. Officials in the city of El Paso converted two vacant middle schools into migrant shelters.
The out-of-state personnel who are sent to Texas would assist Abbott’s Operation Lone Star, an initiative launched two years ago to combat drug- and migrant-smuggling into the state from Mexico. Abbott said the state has spent $4.5 billion on border security since 2021. A ProPublica investigation found Abbott has on seven occasions misled the public on the success of the effort, including claims about drug seizures and criminal arrests.
Abbott and then-Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey made a similar plea to governors for help policing the border in 2021. DeSantis, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, also sent support to both states in response.
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