Gov. Abbott expands border security operations following immigrants’ deaths in San Antonio trailer tragedy

EAGLE PASS, Texas – Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference Wednesday to provide an update on the state’s ongoing response to what he calls a “growing border crisis.”

Abbott was joined by Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw and Adjutant General of Texas Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer.

This was the first press conference the governor has held since the discovery of a stifling trailer in San Antonio where dozens of migrants died after being abandoned in the sweltering heat, few identities of the victims have been made public, illustrating the challenges authorities face in tracing people who cross borders clandestinely. The number of dead rose to 53 on Wednesday after two more migrants died, according to the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office. Forty of the victims were male and 13 were female, it said.

The bodies were discovered Monday afternoon on the outskirts of San Antonio in what is believed to be the nation’s deadliest smuggling episode on the U.S.-Mexico border. More than a dozen people were taken to hospitals, including four children. Three people have been arrested.

Abbott has addressed the incident on Twitter, blaming the deaths on President Joe Biden’s border policies.

During Wednesday’s press conference, Abbott said the San Antonio incident shows that a record number of people are illegally crossing the border. He said there has been an increase in brazenness by cartels who feel empowered under the federal government failing to push back against them and their illegal activities.

“It is heartbreaking, the numbers have increased. It is now reported that 53 people in that truck lost their lives. It is the deadliest migrant smuggling incident on U.S. soil and on Biden’s watch,” Abbott said.

The governor said he was recently briefed by the sheriff in Eagle Pass that multiple people, in just the past week, have died from heat exhaustion, and in addition to that, around two people drowned in the river.

“Texas is going to take action to do our part to try to reduce the illegal immigration coming into our country. We’re going to be adding more resources and stronger strategies to control all the borderland that is owned or controlled by state or local governments,” Abbott said.

Here is the following action plan that Abbott says will help to secure the border:

  • Securing $4 billion in funding for Texas’ border security efforts
  • Launching Operation Lone Star and deploying thousands of National Guard soldiers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers
  • Arresting and jailing illegal migrants trespassing or committing other state crimes in Texas
  • Allocating resources that include acquiring 1,700 unused steel panels to build the border wall in Texas
  • Signing a law to make it easier to prosecute smugglers bringing people into Texas
  • Signing 15 laws cracking down on human trafficking in Texas
  • Signing a law enhancing penalties for the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl
  • Issuing a disaster declaration for the border crisis
  • Issuing an executive order preventing non-governmental entities from transporting illegal immigrants
  • Taking legal action to enforce the Remain in Mexico policy
  • Taking aggressive action to secure the border as President Biden ends Title 42 expulsions, including busing migrants to Washington, D.C.
  • Signing memoranda of understanding between the State of Texas and the States of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to enhance border security measures that will prevent illegal immigration from Mexico to Texas
  • Activating the Joint Border Security Operations Center (JBSOC) and directing the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Military Department, and Texas Division of Emergency Management to coordinate Texas’ response to secure the border

“The truck passed through a border point checkpoint, it was not inspected,” Abbott said. “It was not inspected because the Border Patrol does not have the resources to be able to inspect all of the trucks. And as a result, the port Border Patrol did not have the capability of saving those lives. Mr. President, you can fix that if you provide what is categorized as the minimum number of border patrol officers who are needed to do the fundamental job of the United States of America and adequately fund their operations to make sure that they are going to be able to inspect those vehicles.”

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