Sep 21, 2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Del Rio Border Security Press Conference Transcript
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott held a press conference in Del Rio on September 21, 2021 to discuss border security. Read the transcript of the briefing speech here.
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Governor Greg Abbott: (00:00)
… Brandon Judd, who is the President of the Border Patrol Council, who will be saying a little bit more later, as well as the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steven McCraw, who will also be making comments, as well as the General-in-Charge of the Texas National Guard, Tracy Norris is here. Importantly, we have members of the Texas House of Representatives with us, including the Speaker of the House. The reason why members of the House, as well as the Senate, as well as the entire Legislature are so important, is a core component of the strategy for Texas to be able to respond to this disaster on the border, is the funding that was appropriated by the Texas Legislature that I signed into law last week. All together, the State has provided $3 billion for the State to be able to address this challenge.
Governor Greg Abbott: (00:55)
But let me start by making a point about the challenge that we’re dealing with. We need to understand that if you go back a year ago, President Biden campaigned on having open borders in the United States. I’m sure most people, when they heard that President Biden, either when he was as a candidate or as President, talk about open borders, they had no idea it would lead to the type of chaos that we witnessed just behind me for day after day after day. Contrary to what Kamala Harris talked about, about trying to solve this problem in the Northern Triangle, what the world is witnessing now is the open border policies that are being utilized by the Biden Administration. It attracts people from across the entire globe, including people coming from more than 150 different countries. When you have an administration that is not enforcing the law in this country, when you have an administration that is abandoning any pretense of securing the border and securing our sovereignty, you see the onrush of people like what we saw walking across this dam that is right behind me.
Governor Greg Abbott: (02:15)
Well, because the Biden Administration is doing nothing to secure our border, because the Biden Administration has been promoting and allowing open border policies, it has been the State of Texas that had to step up and address this challenge and work with the local mayor, the local county judge, and the local sheriff to accomplish several things. One of our primary goals obviously, was to assist local officials in making sure that their communities are going to be safe. But in addition to that, Texas is taking unprecedented steps. You can see by all of the Texas Department of Public Safety cars, as well as the National Guard vehicles that surround us here, but go for miles on either side of where are right now, they have created a steel barrier, preventing people from being able to cross the border.
Governor Greg Abbott: (03:07)
One day, there were countless people coming across the border. Then that very same day, the Texas Department of Public Safety put up all of these DPS vehicles, and suddenly in an instant people stopped crossing the border in this location, that strategy is working. In addition to that strategy, there’s something else that we’re doing that’s been unprecedented. That is the State of Texas, we are arresting and jailing anybody who comes across the border illegally and trespasses on private property or on public land. So it’s not the Biden Administration catch-and-release policy. It’s the arrest-and-jail policy, sending a message to these folks and anybody thinking about coming here. If they’re thinking about coming and crossing this river here in Texas, you may wind up with handcuffs on your hands going straight to jail, as opposed to being released to the general population.
Governor Greg Abbott: (04:05)
The mayor here and the sheriff here, the county judge here, they’ve been on the front lines and they’ve been overwhelmed with what has taken place. It’s essential that Texas continues its efforts. One thing that I’ve learned in briefings, and that is now that we have sealed this particular area of the border, we see the migrants now trying to penetrate other areas of the border. As a result, our strategies are shifting also, because we will continue moving law enforcement and National Guard officials to whatever location people may be crossing the border and use the same strategy to try to reduce the influx that’s unprecedented of the number of people coming across the border. I am now going to turn over the mic to the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, who’s been organizing the efforts on the front line. Director McCraw, why don’t you come on up?
Director Steven McCraw: (05:04)
Thank you, sir. First Governor, thank you and members of the State Legislature, for your leadership. You made it very clear to us and the Department of Public Safety and to the Acting General, and the National Guard that Texas doesn’t need anybody’s permission to protect Texas. So a result insisted you insisted that we be proactive, in terms of assisting our border patrol agents, in terms of securing this area, which is certainly a public safety threat, but also we’re mindful is a Homeland security threat. In fact, there’s nothing more threatening [inaudible 00:05:38] public safety in Texas and Homeland security, than an unsecured international border with Mexico, period. Now, we’ve experienced the influxes before in Texas, certainly in 2014, 2015, but going back to 1986 was the highest number of apprehensions of illegal immigrants back in 1986, and that was at 726,000. But today, we reached the all time high in Texas and that’s 1.1 million apprehensions, not including what you see over here. These numbers hadn’t been counted yet.
Director Steven McCraw: (06:11)
Certainly that’s the federal fiscal year, which we’ve count in terms of the border patrol aspect of it. Keep in mind that every time this happens, border patrol is overwhelmed and certainly their union representative can talk about that and certainly their chief can talk about it. But when that happens, Texas becomes less secure, because the cartels exploit those gaps and that’s cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, human trafficking, all the above. If you’ve got a drug problem in the United States, you’ve got a cartel problem, you’ve got a Mexican, Texas international border problem as well. As the Governor made clear, we’ll continue as long as needed working with all our partners. Got to thank the sheriff, the county judge, all the elected officials, because they care deeply and are passionate about protecting Texas. So, Governor, Thank you!
Governor Greg Abbott: (07:00)
Thank you very much. Obviously, the men and women charged with the duty in the United States to secure our border are the Border Patrol officers. These border patrol officers are overwhelmed with the amount of work they are required to do, and they’re suffering the consequences of an administration that is not providing them either the personnel or the resources they need. To speak more about it, we have Brandon Judd, who is the President of the Border Patrol Council. Brandon, come on up.
Brandon Judd: (07:32)
Thank you Governor. First and foremost, I would like to thank the men and women in uniform, our military personnel, our DPS officers, our sheriffs, these people put on uniforms because they care. They care about these migrants. They care about the citizens of the United States. They put that uniform on every day to protect life, to protect the way that we have in the United States, protect our citizens. They deserve an awful lot of thanks. We have to give gratitude to Governor Abbott for sending DPS here. We saw something yesterday that we knew was going to happen. When those people that were in buses, south of Kingsville, Texas, when they found out that they were going to be sent back to Haiti, they took the bus over and they fled. If it wasn’t for the men and women in uniform, DPS officers, if it wasn’t for that, we do not know what would happen right here under the bridge, as word starts to spread that they potentially could be sent to back to Haiti.
Brandon Judd: (08:36)
If we don’t ask the question, “Why are we here? What caused this?” We won’t fix this problem. The simple answer is, catch-and-release. As long as we invite people to violate our laws, as long as we reward them for entering the country illegally, and then releasing them into the United States with a defacto immigration status to where they can get work permits, to where they can send their children to school, where they have every right of a United States citizen, they’re going to continue to come. We’ve seen that time and time again. We have to have the proper discussion. If we have that discussion, we can fix this problem. But until we fix this problem, we’re going to continue to see scenes like this.
Brandon Judd: (09:25)
We’re going to continue to put pressure on Texas resources. We’re going to continue to Rob Peter to pay Paul. We’re going to shift border patrol resources from already areas that are troubled like Tucson, and we’re going to send them out here. We’re going to shift resources from Laredo, shutdown checkpoints. We’re going to seed law enforcement operations to criminal cartels. The Administration knew this was coming. On June 17th, they were warned. On June 17th, they were told to construct a temporary outdoor processing site, similar to what we have under the Anzalduas Bridge, in McAllen, Texas. They ignored it. They ignored the warnings. Then we started to see larger and larger groups coming underneath the bridge and congregating to the point that we’re here now. Had we have taken the proper steps, we wouldn’t be discussing this right now today, but because we are, Texas has been stressed. The Border Patrol has been stressed. ICE has been stressed. The National Guard has been stressed.
Brandon Judd: (10:35)
There are solutions to this problem and what you see underneath the bridge, that is not humane. The Biden Administration promised that they would have a humane process. That is not humane. It is humane to properly enforce our laws. It is humane to not just give lip service to an issue, but to actually follow it up with actions. That’s what we haven’t seen. For that reason, I am grateful to General Norris. I’m grateful to Director McCraw, and I’m especially grateful to Governor Abbott for taking the lead on this issue, an issue that he doesn’t have to take the lead on, but he does, because he cares about the citizens of the State of Texas and the citizens of the United States. For that Governor, thank you very much.
Governor Greg Abbott: (11:28)
Thank you. Brandon Judd made a very important point and that is, failure to enforce laws that exist in the United States, leads to chaos and chaos leads to inhumanity. The Biden Administration is a man-made disaster of inhumanity of epic proportions. It must end. It must end immediately. The way to end it, is by the Biden Administration stepping up and finally enforcing the immigration laws of the United States of America. I’ll take a few questions
Speaker 4: (12:10)
Governor? Governor? CNN is reporting that there are at least 30,000 Haitian migrants in Columbia right now that may be seeking to come [inaudible 00:12:16]. Can you address your concerns about that? Also, if you can speak to conversations that your administration is having with the Mexican government about possibility [inaudible 00:12:24]?
Governor Greg Abbott: (12:26)
Sure. I’ve missed the first part of your question, who was saying that?
Speaker 4: (12:29)
CNN. [inaudible 00:12:30].
Governor Greg Abbott: (12:29)
Speaker 4: (12:31)
[inaudible 00:12:31] saying that there are about 30,000 migrants from Haitian [inaudible 00:12:34].
Governor Greg Abbott: (12:34)
Right, so, there have been reports for a while now about other groups like this, that could be coming from other countries. That’s exactly why we are here, because we want anybody who’s thinking about coming to Texas, whether it be from Columbia or any other country, that Texas is going to be responding. We have the law enforcement, we have the funding, we have the strategies, whether it be here in Del Rio or any other location on the Texas border. If you are targeting Texas to come to, we’re going to show up in force and shut down the border. We’re not going to allow the disaster that we saw here in Del Rio to be replicated by additional caravans coming from wherever they may come from.
Speaker 5: (13:19)
Governor? First up, [inaudible 00:13:19] question, we have heard that some [inaudible 00:13:23] area, you concerned about that? Second, we heard about a large caravan, that is similar to this one in Reynosa maybe attempting to cross into the McAllen areas?
Governor Greg Abbott: (13:36)
So both the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas National Guard, as well as local law enforcement are very aware of the different locations that migrants may be trying to cross. Some are leaving this region, going to other regions, either in Val Verde County or in neighboring counties. As a result, we are also moving resources to interdict those who may be trying to come in. We have heard information about the possibility of something like this happening in Reynosa and DPS, as well as the National Guard, they are working in collaboration with those on the US side, to make sure that we are going to be able to put up the resistance that is needed, so that those communities don’t suffer the same consequences that Del Rio did.
Speaker 6: (14:24)
Governor, how many migrants are at that bridge right now and are there plans to reopen this border any time soon?
Governor Greg Abbott: (14:32)
Sure. [crosstalk 00:14:35] That’s the county judge, the county judge told me, that as of right now, there are about 8,600 migrants who remain under the border. As far as I, and the state resources are concerned, there is no intention to depart this location until this location is fully restored to total control.
Speaker 6: (14:58)
I know you have flights going out and things like that, maybe an estimate on when that could be?
Governor Greg Abbott: (15:03)
So the flights going out that you’re talking about, are flights that are conducted by the Biden Administration and candidly, there’s been nothing but confusion and shifting different stories about where they’re flying them from, where they’re flying them to, how many they are flying out. So that’s a constantly changing story that only the Biden Administration can venture to tell you.
Speaker 7: (15:23)
Two more questions.
Speaker 8: (15:24)
Governor, on that point about the flights and when these migrants will be away from that bridge, the Biden Administration believes that they can process those remaining migrants by the end of the week, do you believe that?
Governor Greg Abbott: (15:35)
They have shown no capability of being able to process all of these migrants by the end of this week. The only thing they’ve shown is an incapability of dealing with this crisis, candidly, in a way where they pretend it doesn’t even exist. We’re here to tell you it exists, it’s total chaos and the Biden Administration, they need to up their game big time.
Speaker 7: (15:58)
Last question! Last question! [crosstalk 00:16:00].
Speaker 9: (15:59)
Yesterday, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security said that their response to the border here was measured with the need, however, we know that a lot of folks have been saying that you that all you need help down here for some time now. What do you suppose took them so long to get here?
Governor Greg Abbott: (16:14)
So we have been told by the Secretary of Homeland Security, as well as others in the Biden Administration stretching back to last March and February, that they would continue to provide resources that were needed to prevent events like this from happening. All those promises were never fulfilled. As a result, it had to be the State of Texas working in collaboration with our local partners that steps up and provides the resources that are needed to staunch the flow of illegal immigration on our border. We will continue that effort. Thank you all very much. [crosstalk 00:16:47].
Speaker 7: (16:47)
Thank you guys so much! Thank you for coming! Thank you! Thank you so much! [crosstalk 00:16:51] Thank you! Thank you for coming! [crosstalk 00:16:51].
Governor Greg Abbott: (16:55)
So I obviously made a Disaster Declaration for a very valid reason, and that is, if you look at what the financial strain and the healthcare strain and other strains that Val Verde County is dealing with, as well as the additional counties around this area, there is a need for a Presidential Disaster Declaration. I have not yet heard back from the Biden Administration. If you look at history, every time I’ve made a request, they’ve been non-responsive to any requests I’ve made about needs along the border and helping these counties with the resources that they need, because they’re completely overrun.
Speaker 7: (17:36)
All right, thank you guys! Thank you!
Speaker 10: (17:36)
Governor, is this declaration just for Val Verde County, or is it the entire state?
Governor Greg Abbott: (17:37)
Well, it encompasses the counties that are affected by the current surge. It is capable of being expanded to make sure that the State and the counties and the cities will receive the resources they need to be able to cope with the disaster caused by the Biden Administration.
Speaker 7: (17:55)
[crosstalk 00:17:55] Thank you guys! Now, that’s the last question. Thank you so much!
Brandon Judd: (17:55)
Governor, thank you! I appreciate you [crosstalk 00:17:55]
Speaker 7: (17:55)
All right, DPS can escort you guys back out, thank you for coming. [crosstalk 00:18:09].