Jun 30, 2022

Abbott holds press conference as death toll in migrant trailer tragedy rises to 53 Transcript

Abbott holds press conference as death toll in migrant trailer tragedy rises to 53 Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsGreg AbbotAbbott holds press conference as death toll in migrant trailer tragedy rises to 53 Transcript

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. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1: (00:00)
Will create and implement a checkpoint strategy beginning immediately, where they will begin targeting trucks, like the one that was used, where these people perished to make sure that we will have a better capability of perhaps stopping future trucks like that, as well as stopping the smugglers and the cartel members who are trying to profiteer off of it. Now we’re in Eagle Pass today for a reason. Eagle pass is part of the Del Rio sector. And the Del Rio sector has seen the largest number of illegal crossings in the past week. There was a time when most of the illegal crossings would take place in the Rio Grande valley. And that’s no longer true right now. We’re at ground zero here into Del Rio where we have the largest number of border crossings. And we have information indicating that there could be a meaningful rise in the number of border crossings in this region.

Speaker 1: (01:02)
So we want to step up and make sure that we will do more to better secure this area. As the mayor told me earlier, he said, the situation in Eagle Pass has gone from bad to worse with the increased number of people coming through this area. The bottom line is this, despite the increasing numbers, despite these caravans on the Mexico side of the border right now, the Biden administration still is doing nothing whatsoever to stop it. 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 border land that is owned or controlled by state or local governments. Let me make clear what I just said.

Speaker 1: (02:01)
The property along the border is owner controlled, typically by three different groups. There is some property that’s owner controlled by state or local governments. This property we’re on right now is controlled by the local government. There is other property that’s owner controlled by the state. However, there is some property on the border that is owned or controlled by the federal government. If it’s owner controlled by the federal government, Texas does not have the authority or the capability to stop the illegal immigrants from going to that land. There’s another area that we’re working on, and that is private property. There are people, whether it be in this community or, people up and down the border who own property on the border, we are getting authorization from as many of them as we can for the state of Texas, to be able to put up barriers, whether it be concertina wire or fences or other types of barriers.

Speaker 1: (02:59)
So we can prevent people from entering the United States and the state of Texas through that private property. Along these lines, I’m announcing a couple of new strategies that we’re adding on to what we are already doing, so that Texas can gain even greater operational control of the property owned by the city of Texas or local governments or private property owners. We are creating two strike teams, the Texas department of public safety is creating two strike teams to detect, deter and apprehend unlawful crossings of illegal immigrants. Two strike teams deployed. They will be deployed immediately right here in Eagle Pass. Each team will consist of 20 troopers. Additional strike teams will be deployed to high traffic crossing areas as needed. Separate and in addition to that, the National Guard is taking additional action. By the way, it’s important to point out that the National Guard they’ve been deployed to the Texas border for more than a year now. Many of whom are with us here today. And, and we appreciate their tireless around the clock effort to do everything they can to help secure the boarder.

Speaker 1: (04:19)
What they are focused on right now is deploying additional miles of concertina military grade, razor wire, along the Rio Grande river, protecting areas from entry by people illegally. In addition to that, the National Guard is adding miles of fencing and barriers on state and local property. Once again, prioritizing the high traffic areas. And they’re also going to be adding boat teams where feasible along the river. One thing that they have been involved in and been very aggressive about, already they have numbered more than 22,000 turn backs of people who are trying to come across the border, who they turned back. That is an essential role of what the National Guard is helping us to achieve. At this time, I would like to call upon director McCraw, the Texas Department of Public Safety, to add more about what DPS is doing.

Speaker 2: (05:27)
Thank you Governor. As the Governor noted Del Rio sector for the first time, over a decade, and for that first time ever, there’s the central point for human [inaudible 00:05:40] in relation to working for the Del Rio sector, he mentioned is where we operate in right now. This is what Maverick county is. It’s the reason why he is having the press conference a day after visit with local officials, seeing what their needs are. And clearly there is this unmitigated flow of people into this area he’s tasked and we’re doing right now.

Speaker 2: (05:58)
He pointed out two trooper strike teams already arriving in Maverick county who will be supplemented by another three next week. And if we have to bring another five, we will. The number brings up the 200 already over the resource that we have dedicated to it. In addition, he talked about commercial vehicle enforcement strike teams. That’s our troopers that are, have authority to work commercial vehicle traffic that are trained in it and have the expertise along with civilian inspectors along these smuggling corridors, not on the border, but the smuggling corridors that they use to move people always up in the San Antonio to Houston, to El Paso, other locations.

Speaker 2: (06:35)
We’re going to have these checkpoints in these areas. And we’ll be in a position, I can assure you that our troopers will be able to identify the smugglers. What they’re doing right now is they’re using clone trucks and vehicles that appear to be legitimate. That look like they’re legitimate. That’s easy to pass through the particular checkpoint, but I can assure you our troopers will be able to identify whether it’s legitimate or not, and take action at that point in time. That’s a deterrent and that’s also, we have an opportunity to save lives. Already we’ve been able to identify 983 illegal immigrants in truck tractors, semi trailers, thus far since the governor launched operation Lone Star.

Speaker 2: (07:09)
Additionally, after talking to the chief and the sheriff, we’re going to deploy strike teams of DPS special agents to conduct surveillance and look for these clone vehicles, stolen vehicles that are staged along the highways used to smuggle people further north and also identify stash houses, which is very important to disrupting Mexican cartel operations and build predominantly those stash houses are in urban areas that are cont, was with Mexico. There’ll be another focus, governor enforced the brush teams. As we heard, they’re penetrating some of the particular areas and working with landowners, getting access. And we’ll put into the elite brush teams that we have, with the National Guard and our troopers that are trained in special response tactics in our special operation group as well. Of course, increased UAVs governor, we’re going to put them here as well and include pilot resources to support helicopter operations, to support the surveillance activities, looking for stash houses. That’s it.

Speaker 1: (08:06)
Thank You. And now General Suelzer from the Texas National Guard.

Speaker 3: (08:12)
Good afternoon. The Texas National Guard continues to take unprecedented action along with our partners here to secure the border and protect Texas communities. In response to this crisis, we have in placed over 60 miles of barrier along the Texas border in the form of fence or concertina wire. In Maverick county alone, which we are in, we have secured agreements with 55 miles worth of border landowners to put up fence. We are 50% complete on that task. We have also put over eight linear miles of concertina wire, much of what you can see here along the border in Maverick county.

Speaker 3: (09:00)
Working today with our partners, with the governor, with the mayor, we are going to expand that zone out, working with the community to get more land agreements, to extend concertina wire out in order to not only block, but to push any migrant or illicit activity outside, away from this great city to where they can be apprehended. Additionally, we are increasing our boat teams. We currently have 70 boats and 48 teams, and we’re continuing to grow those teams. You may see some of those boats operating on this river behind us today. And then finally, we just implemented our small unmanned aerial system program or drone program. It will take a couple months to get online, but we will have several teams of small UAS operators that can come to places like Eagle Pass and help detect and block illicit narcotics and transnational criminal activity.

Speaker 1: (10:03)
Thank you very much. Again, everything that we just talked about and everything that we’ve done up until now would not have been needed, if all that president Biden had done was to keep in place the border security plan that had been put in place by president Trump. Under president Trump, we saw the fewest illegal crossings in decades, under president Biden we see all time record highs as time for president Biden to reinstate the strategies that were put in place by president Trump that proved so effective.

Speaker 5: (10:33)
Which ones in particular?

Speaker 1: (10:33)
So they are these, building a border wall, keeping in place, both title 42 and the Remain in Mexico policy and enforcing those. So those policies remain in effect right now. However, it’s my understanding that the way we see it, Biden is not enforcing those. Ending catch and release. Those are the four things that are very simple to do, but maybe there’s a fifth thing, candidly, that means as much as anything else. And that is for the president to be adamant that he is not going to tolerate any illegal immigration. America has a very robust, legal immigration process that should be used. He, the president should not be promoting illegal immigration the way that he is.

Speaker 4: (11:21)
What’s the states overall plan when it comes to apprehensions, deterrents, and incarcerations, because at the end of the day, people will have increasing [inaudible 00:11:32]

Speaker 1: (11:32)
Sir, and so part of the state plan was to arrest people who were violating state law. And I’ll tell you what the numbers are and the numbers will just continue to go up. We’ve made more than 16,000 criminal arrests, more than 4,000 criminal trespass arrests. We’ve made more than 14,000 felony charges, but we have apprehended more than 270,000 illegal immigrants. And we’ve turned back more than 22,000 migrants. And then on top of all of that, because the smugglers were able to get past boarder patrol, it fell upon state law enforcement, such as the DPS to be involved in the seizure of fentanyl. So Texas law enforcement has seized enough fentanyl to kill every man, woman, and child in the United States of America.

Speaker 4: (12:32)
[crosstalk 00:12:32] Back in April you said four [inaudible 00:12:39] it has not happened especially in this sector we already have a five day span here with over 7,000 migrants were encountered [inaudible 00:12:43] they’re costed by the 100s. What are you doing to hold the next state governors accountable for not obeying the agreements you made with them.

Speaker 1: (12:57)
So the accountability may come soon, but we’ve been in discussion with our bordering neighbors about what they’re doing. I will tell you this, obviously the state right across the border is Coahuila. And he talked about the numbers in Coahuila. The governor of Coahuila is doing a lot, maybe as much as anybody to disband the caravans who throw up people who would otherwise come across the border. His challenge is the same as my challenge, and that’s the president of his country. And as long as AMLO is advancing this and aiding this effort, it’s hard for a governor to be able to stop him.

Speaker 5: (13:42)
The Sheriff in Canyon county took four illegal aliens and brought them to the grid and released them back to Mexico and boarder patrol was unable to. Do support you support that action?

Speaker 1: (13:49)
I missed the first part of your question.

Speaker 5: (13:50)
The Sheriff of Canyon county took four illegal aliens that were captured in his county and returned them to the bridge, here back to Mexico. Do you support that?

Speaker 1: (13:59)
So the first thing I will tell you is that the sheriffs of the set of Texas play a vital role up and down the board. And there’s a team effort by all of these efforts. And I applaud all of our sheriffs-

Speaker 5: (14:12)
You support them deporting-

Speaker 1: (14:15)
For having to respond into unprecedented conditions. And that’s causing all of us to use unprecedented action. And so whether it’s doing what that sheriff in Canyon county is doing, or what we are doing such as turning back more than 20,000 people, we all have our own tools and strategies that we use to either turn back or to return people across the boarder.

Speaker 6: (14:41)
Governor quick question for you, I want to ask while we await for the Supreme court to decide the MPP remain in Mexico case should they rule in of Texas? How much confidence do you have in the Biden administration that they will abide by that and reinstate it fully.

Speaker 1: (14:57)
So, that decision will come out tomorrow. And we hope obviously that the Supreme court will uphold the Remain in Mexico policy, but upholding the policy obviously is only on paper. If the Biden administration does not follow that standard. For one, if they do not follow the standard, Texas can take legal action and go to court to hold the president, to hold secretary Mayorkas and other operatives in the federal government, in contempt of court, if they fail to live up to that order. And that’s exactly what we will be seeking to do.

Speaker 8: (15:33)
[crosstalk 00:15:33] There are 22,000 of [inaudible 00:15:34] and 280,000 this sector has seized since October, we’ve seen it back here numerous times [inaudible 00:15:47] boarder of the razor wire. How is this really effective?

Speaker 1: (15:46)
Well, the way that it’s really effective is if you look at the overall numbers, for example, the fentanyl that we’ve seized, had we not been here that fentanyl would not have been seized, look at the number of turn backs, had we not been here those are 22,000 more people who would’ve gotten in. Look at the arrests. 14,000 people arrested that would not have been arrested had we not been here including the 4,000 for trespassing cases and the list goes on. We’re doing more than any state has ever done in the history of the United States and I’ll add on top of that, if you go back to the time of George Washington, all the way up to the time of Joe Biden, Texas is the only state in the United States that’s ever built its own border wall. And we are working with landowners as we speak right now to add more to that border wall.

Speaker 6: (16:38)
You’re talking about all these number or you’re increasing the resources, obviously these numbers are astronomical. When we’re driving out here from Del Rio, there used to be National Guard, every couple of miles used to run into DPS, I mean, constantly, it seems like that’s pulled back a lot. Road mill has all that emptied out. I mean, where are the resources at if you’re saying that we’re upping them and it looks like what’s increasing them along this [inaudible 00:17:00]

Speaker 1: (17:00)
We are deploying them to strategic areas. Some, examples, whether it be strike forces like what we announced here, we have other strategies in place that we’re adding personnel to that are low water crossings, other strategies where we’re doing things so that we, as a state will occupy land either before the federal government does or before migrants do.

Speaker 6: (17:23)
So why have them there in the first place, why not have them out there going to these strategic areas? Why sit them above the highway, were they’re not doing anything or were they actually useful?

Speaker 1: (17:31)
They, wherever they have been, they’ve been useful. It’s just that as you all have observed and reported, the facts are changing on the ground minute by minute, and what law enforcement and the military has to do is change their tactics on the ground minute by minute to deal with what’s changing.

Speaker 6: (17:48)
Two more questions. Two more. You mentioned troopers are going to have more inspection from these 18 [inaudible 00:17:48] tragically we’ve already had a [inaudible 00:17:57] here in San Antonio. Where should you expect the inspection, the message for the families that were affected in this tragedy?

Speaker 1: (18:02)
Well, obviously our prayers are with the families who were affected by this tragedy. It’s heart wrenching. And it is even worse when you hear about some of the things that happened during the course of it. And we never want to see that happen again. And so Joe Biden may not be stepping up to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but Texas is going to step up and do our part to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again, where specifically we will be doing that. We’re not going to say publicly. And let me tell you why. If we say publicly where it’s going to happen, it will cause the cartels to move their actions elsewhere. Our job is to surprise the cartels and the smugglers, not to tell them in advance, where we will be.

Speaker 5: (18:42)
You’re meant to stop a lot of this immigration. Will you do any humanitarian efforts from the state?

Speaker 9: (18:46)
You don’t want to give it away, you did say you were going to build [inaudible 00:18:53] along with that [inaudible 00:18:57]

Speaker 1: (18:58)
I’ll let director McCraw answer that.

Speaker 2: (18:59)
We’ll do a couple things. We’re going to use some of the commercial vehicle enforcement resources we already have working the bridges to move further out. So we have an opportunity to use, to target those truck tractors. Some of those traders are picking up people with stash houses and moving further on, more over we’re bringing commercial vehicle enforcement strike teams from around the state. So it’ll be coming from outside or south, Texas and west Texas regions to augment current operations.

Speaker 4: (19:27)
Great, thank you guys so much.

Speaker 10: (19:29)
Governor yesterday I sat next to the constable’s office and your troopers while we waited for BP, they were so overwhelmed here. What’s your thought on that? They were there for at least an hour.

Speaker 1: (19:44)

Speaker 10: (19:44)
Your troopers took over and started actually processing. So BP could transport them.

Speaker 1: (19:49)
Right? And so that’s reprehensible, and it is a consequence of what I said earlier. And that is there’s an intended, minimal level of border patrol to be funded. That floor has since been removed by Congress. It used to exist, and it was about 22,000 border patrol members. They’re more than 2000 short of that as we speak right now, despite the fact that we’re dealing with the worst border crossing ever. And so at a minimum immediately Congress and the president should step up and provide what that former floor was for the border patrol numbers to provide the funding for it. That would be a good start.

Speaker 4: (20:29)
Great. Thank you guys so much.

Speaker 10: (20:36)
[inaudible 00:20:36]

Speaker 7: (20:36)
No, sorry. Thank you. The meeting is over.

Everyone: (21:04)
[crosstalk 00:21:04]

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