Migrants from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia and Cuba arrived in Washington on Wednesday after Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, promised to send them to the nation’s capital after passing their federal immigration inspection at the border.
His office said it was “part of Governor Abbott’s response to the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42 evictions,” referring to the pandemic-era emergency health order that allowed immigration authorities to quickly deport migrants at the border, even those seeking asylum.
The bus departed Tuesday from Del Rio, Texas, and was expected to drop off around 35 migrants at the US Capitol. According to reports, the first bus arrived a few blocks away.
“By busing migrants to Washington, D.C., the Biden administration will be able to respond more immediately to the needs of the people it allows to cross our border. Texas shouldn’t have to bear the burden of failure of the Biden administration to secure our border,” the governor told reporters at a press conference.
Governor Abbott is taking action to move migrants without proper coordination with the federal government and local border communities,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus said in a statement Thursday. , and human immigration processes, and state assistance must be carefully coordinated with us.
After the announcement, the governor’s office clarified to reporters that the program is entirely voluntary and that migrants only travel to Washington after the CPB has legally processed them at the US-Mexico border.
According to the media, some migrants planned to go to other American cities. But regardless of their final destination, they are required to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to continue the immigration process.
The Texas governor said he also plans to charter flights to ferry more migrants to the nation’s capital.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the move a “publicity stunt” and the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas called the bus politically motivated. Texas State Representative Matt Schaefer, a Republican, called it a “trick”.
Title 42 at the border
For more than a year, the Biden administration kept in place a Trump-era policy on the U.S. southern border that allowed the U.S. to quickly deport migrants to their home countries or foreign countries. Mexican border towns.
On April 1, the administration announced that the policy would end on May 23, giving U.S. officials time to prepare for what they expect will be an increase in migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to CBP data, Title 42 has been used in most of the estimated 2 million deportations of migrants from Brazil, Central America, Haiti, Mexico and Colombia since March 2020, when the pandemic was declared. Other asylum seekers from South America have also been blocked at ports of entry under this policy.
In February, US border officials recorded 164,973 encounters with migrants. Among them, 91,513 were expelled. The others could have been detained, allowed to seek asylum or released on parole.
In February 2021, CBP recorded 101,099 encounters with migrants. In February 2020, just before title 42, encounters numbered 36,687. In 2019, the year before the pandemic began, February encounters totaled 76,545.
Luis Miranda, a CBP spokesperson, recently told VOA that officials would “simply revert to treating any encounter across the border as we always have under Title 8, which is the authority to immigration that has always been in place throughout the history of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”
He added: “At the end of the day, if someone tries to enter without legal permission and does not have the legal basis to stay, they will be placed in removal proceedings.”
Abbott last week announced its own border policies, including sending migrants, after processing by immigration officials, to Washington and improving state inspections of vehicles crossing into Texas from Mexico.
Abbott said the additional inspections are necessary to crack down on the smuggling of migrants and illegal drugs into the country.
Truckers block the border
One of the busiest ports along the US-Mexico border was effectively closed on Wednesday when Mexican truckers blocked the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge to protest Abbott’s additional inspections of commercial trucks, which resulted in border delays.
Since Monday, state troopers have stopped and inspected all trucks entering Texas.
The White House called the enhanced inspections “unnecessary and redundant,” adding that they were significantly disrupting food and automotive supply chains, delaying manufacturing, hurting jobs and raising prices for families in Texas and across the country. country.
“Trucks are facing lengthy delays exceeding five hours at some border crossings and commercial traffic has dropped by up to 60%. The continued flow of legitimate trade and travel and CBP’s ability to do its job must not be Governor Abbott’s actions are impacting people’s jobs and the livelihoods of hard-working American families,” Psaki said in a statement.
Rep. John Katko of New York, the Republican head of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Fox News Digital that Abbott’s decision “reflects deep and ongoing frustration with border management. by the Biden administration.”