Apr 7, 2022
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott holds a press conference on the state’s border security efforts 4/06/22 Transcript
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott holds a press conference on the state’s border security efforts in light of the Biden administration’s plan to eliminate Title 42 on 4/06/22. Read the transcript here.
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Greg Abbott: (00:00)
Are angry and upset about all of the catastrophes caused by the Biden open border policies. And they are urgently asking for action, obviously from the state of Texas, but they know that it’s the Biden administration that caused this open border problem. And they expect the Biden administration to step up and respond and to fix the open border problem that they have caused. So the Biden administration’s open border policies have led to a record number of illegal immigrants crossing the border into the United States.
Greg Abbott: (00:32)
Barack Obama’s own Secretary of Homeland Security said that by any measure, having a 100,000 people cross the border in one month would be a crisis. Now, the Department of Homeland Security is saying that with the end of the Title 42 expulsions, beginning in May, the federal government is planning for up to 18,000 illegal immigrants crossing per day. That’s more than half a million illegal immigrants crossing the border every single month from more than 150 different countries across the globe. That’s far beyond what Homeland Security Secretary Johnson said was a crisis. It is unprecedented and is dangerous.
Greg Abbott: (01:19)
We have potentially more people who will be crossing our border illegally by the end of this year than live in Los Angeles, America’s second largest city. With the Biden administration ending Title 42 expulsions in May, Texas will be taking its own unprecedented actions this month to do what no state and the America has ever done in the history of this country to better secure our state, as well as our nation. Some of what we will be doing will be announced here today. Other parts of what we will be doing will be announced next week.
Greg Abbott: (02:05)
Today, to put all of this in context, it was just March of last year that we began operation Lone Star to respond to the disaster that existed at that particular moment in time, to respond to that with the help and support of the Texas legislature, I deployed 10,000 National Guard and DPS troopers to the Southern border. They have apprehended more than 200,000 migrants so far. They’ve arrested more than 11,000, including cartel members, drug smugglers, and cop killers. And of course, they have seized more fentanyl that is enough to kill every man, woman and child in Texas. And Texas, unlike any state in the history of our country, we have already begun to build our own border wall, securing our state and securing our country. But with the ending of Title 42 expulsions, more must be done.
Greg Abbott: (03:04)
Today, I’m announcing a series of new strategies that will be added on to Operation Lone Star to curtail the flow of drug cartel smuggling and migrants and drugs. The first involves inspections. A zero tolerance policy for unsafe vehicles for smuggling migrants across the border is being implemented immediately. Cartels use vehicles, many of them dangerous commercial trucks to smuggle immigrants, deadly fentanyl, and other illegal cargo into Texas and onto our roadways.
Greg Abbott: (03:39)
Effective immediately, the Texas Department of Public Safety will conduct enhanced safety inspections of vehicles as they cross the international points of entry into Texas. Now, I know in advance, this is going to dramatically slow traffic from Mexico into Texas. It is a byproduct of cartels crossing the border from Mexico into Texas. And at this time, I’m going to sign my directive to Colonel McCraw, the Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, to get that project underway immediately for the zero tolerance and the inspections that will be taking place.
Greg Abbott: (04:28)
Second, to help local officials whose communities are being overwhelmed by hoards of illegal immigrants who are being dropped off by the Biden administration, Texas is providing charter buses to send these illegal immigrants who have been dropped off by the Biden administration to Washington D.C. We are sending them to the United States capital where the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border. To get that going, I’m going to sign a letter to Chief Nim Kidd with the Texas Division of Emergency Management, who will be in charge of this operation.
Greg Abbott: (05:13)
Together, and to recap on these, what Colonel McCraw is charged to do is in this letter I say that, “I hereby direct the Texas Department of Public Safety to conduct enhanced safety inspections of vehicles as they cross international points of entry into Texas. These inspections should begin to immediately help ensure that Texans are not endangered by unsafe vehicles and their unsafe drivers.” And in the letter that I provided to Chief Nim Kidd concerning the transportation by bus of migrants to Washington D.C. I say, “I hereby direct the Texas Division of Emergency Management to begin coordinating the transportation of illegal aliens to Washington D.C.
Greg Abbott: (06:01)
Now, those two strategies are in addition to announcing the following actions to further deter illegal immigrants, including deploying boat blockades at appropriate regions in the Rio Grande River, deploying razor wire at low water crossings and high traffic areas, creating container blockades to drive people away from low water crossings. And additionally, the National Guard will begin its first phase of mass migration rehearsals tomorrow to begin the preparation for what we are anticipating to be a potential mass influx of people coming across the border.
Greg Abbott: (06:47)
All troopers and specialty trained National Guard will be equipped with riot gear in case of potential caravan violence like what we have all seen occur in Mexico as the caravans were making their way toward the United States. And then on top of that, the border region is going to be lit during night in prominent smuggling areas to make it far easier to detect any activity that is taking place.
Greg Abbott: (07:15)
Now, as I said before, this is stage one of a two-part process, at least two-part process. There will be more announcements that will come next week. Over the course between today and next week, Texas will continue to evaluate the threats that are posed by the Biden administration’s open border policies and announce additional actions next week to respond to these unprecedented illegal border crossings.
Greg Abbott: (07:41)
And this time, I will turn it over to Director Steve McCraw of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Steve McCraw: (07:46)
Thank you, Governor. Governor, we’re going to be in operations at your direction at 4:00 PM today.
Greg Abbott: (07:52)
Steve McCraw: (07:52)
We’ve got 28 roadway locations that cross into Texas, and we’re prepared to launch operations in each of those locations.
Greg Abbott: (07:58)
Steve McCraw: (07:58)
All right, sir. Commercial vehicles, trucking industry is vital to our economy and it’s vital to our way of life. And the majority of operators and owners comply with regulations, relates to safety regulations. That’s vitally important because in their impact on Texas roadways and impact on Texas lives. The cartels could care less about that. They don’t care about lives, they don’t care about how many people they poison, they don’t care how many people they kill. They care not, and they’re not afraid of violating and they have, and will continue to do so, a motor vehicle carry loss, commercial vehicle enforcement laws, and we’ve seen it most recently.
Steve McCraw: (08:38)
In fact, it’s been increasing Governor, the amount of smuggling we’ve seen, use of commercial vehicles that have come over. 62 people crammed into a tanker or another 82 into a truck along those lines. And obviously, the vehicles are unsafe themselves, but they’re even more unsafe because they’re carrying people at the time. And the cartels have made it very clear to these drivers, you don’t give up to police. You immediately try to flee from the police. You get these things called bailouts, where the driver leaves and the vehicle continues on. It risks the lives of not only the people that are on board, but also the community, and these continue to happen.
Steve McCraw: (09:14)
Now in Texas, we have over 285,000 registered commercial vehicles and Customs and Border Protection reports that they receive across those 28 roadways we talked about, 4.8 million commercial vehicles a year that enter Texas. That’s an important point to note because as we’ve been informed by our DHS counterparts, they’re projecting that these numbers are going to vastly increase, that as a result of that, the elimination of Title 42, they’re expecting numbers, they’re so high that they… and we’re already at the record high for Texas history right now in terms of apprehensions, and in anticipation that we expect the cartels to do as they’ve done before when board patrol is taken off the line is fully exploit that including not between the ports of entry, but at the ports of entry, Governor.
Steve McCraw: (10:02)
So here’s an opportunity based on your leadership to be proactive, to do what we can to deter, okay, unsafe commercial vehicles onto our roadways. And as we’ve mentioned, we began operations at 4:00 PM today.
Greg Abbott: (10:15)
Thank you. One of the concerns that was raised today by local officials is a concern that we’ve heard repeatedly, and that’s the concern that Colonel McCraw raised about bailouts. This will address those bailouts. It will not completely solve them, but it should go to reduce the number of bailouts that we are experiencing here in the Lone Star state.
Greg Abbott: (10:35)
Next is the Adjutant General, General Salazar.
General Salazar: (10:38)
Thank you, Governor. As you’ve alluded to, due to the impending elimination of Title 42, the Texas Military Department in collaboration with our partners at DPS will be conducting mass migration response rehearsals at multiple locations along the Texas Southern border. These iterative rehearsals will commence tomorrow in five locations and continue well into May. We’ll practice employing maritime engineering and civil disturbance capabilities along varied avenues of approach to Texas.
General Salazar: (11:09)
For the maritime portion of this, as the Governor said, we are employing boats with DPS and Texas Parks and Wildlife to form a blockade on the river to keep people from crossing into Texas. For engineering capabilities, we’ll be prepared to hastily put out concertina wire and produce concertina holding areas for anybody who should decide to attempt to cross into Texas. And then lastly, our civil disturbance capabilities will be in full force to have a non-lethal means of blocking people from entering the state.
General Salazar: (11:44)
So if you’re a caravan organizer and you think you’re going to overwhelm or [inaudible 00:11:48] a port of entry, we’ll be there waiting for you. If you live along the Southern border of Texas, you can anticipate to see increased military activity in the RGV along the Anzalduas Bridge area, Eagle Pass, Del Rio, Laredo, and Zapata. Thank you, Governor.
Greg Abbott: (12:08)
Thank you. Next is the Chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management, Nim Kidd.
Nim Kidd: (12:13)
Thank you, Governor. Our team has already begun communication with our local officials to identify pickup location points. Resources have been ordered and we’ll be ready to implement our part of this plan tomorrow morning.
Greg Abbott: (12:23)
Great. Thank you. Any questions? [crosstalk 00:12:26] Go ahead.
Speaker 6: (12:31)
Can you talk about the resources allocated to local officials? I’m sure that you’ve heard from the Mayor in McAllen and we’ve had patients with capacity once migrants are released into the cities, and we have run out of shelter, at least over summer. Are resources going to be allocated to address that [crosstalk 00:12:50]?
Greg Abbott: (12:50)
So in part, in response to what the state is doing concerning addressing border related issues, there has been funding that has been made available to some local officials. One thing that we are making available… I think you mentioned the Mayor of McAllen, is that right? One thing that we are making available to the Mayor of McAllen, as opposed to McAllen, having to shoulder the burden and cost of dealing with the incredibly large number of migrants that the Biden administration is basically just leaving there in McAllen, Texas is now offering the process of being able to deploy and move all those migrants by bus, to Washington, D.C. Thank you.
Speaker 7: (13:33)
Governor, the inspection points, what would that look like? How close to ports of entry will they be? And from a constitutional standpoint, why is it legal?
Greg Abbott: (13:42)
I’ll answer the second question and I’ll let the Colonel answer both questions. Listen, for the way that the Texas Department of Public Safety will go about this process, they have been through all the legal issues before. It will be happening in the state of Texas, not on the international boundary, so that this is occurring on Texas property, on Texas roadways, which the Texas Department of Public Safety is authorized by law to conduct inspections, exactly like what they will be doing. They will conduct them in a way that will ensure that there will be no constitutional issues that can validly be raised against it.
Greg Abbott: (14:20)
Of course, everyone always follows a lawsuit. We wouldn’t be surprised by a lawsuit, but we know that the process that will be used by the Texas Department of Public Safety will be upheld by the law. As it concerns exactly where they’re located, how they will be conducted, that would be more appropriate to be answered by Colonel McCraw.
Steve McCraw: (14:38)
Yes, sir. Well, first, they’re not going to be on federal property. They won’t be on the bridges where the office of field operation operates, where we’ve not even asked for permission to be able to operate there. It’s going to be in Texas and we already do this at these bridges anyway when we conduct safety checks. So we’re really expanding it and all the way you only do a small percentage right now, it’s very important, especially in lieu of how many is coming across, how many came across in 2021 and the activity that we’re seeing in terms of how they’re being used for smuggling, but importantly, not just smuggling because the purpose of a safety inspection is just that. It’s the safety of that vehicle and the safety of that driver.
Steve McCraw: (15:16)
So it’s our job when we’re talking about commercial vehicle enforcement, is to ensure that every commercial vehicle that comes across an international bridge and onto Texas roadways is safe and the driver is safe as well. If it’s not, we’ll put them out of service.
Speaker 7: (15:30)
As far as the notification, how will that happen from DPS for the truckers?
Steve McCraw: (15:34)
As we do, anytime they come off the bridge, we will direct that. They’ll have plenty of forewarning in terms of what’s happening, and we’ll communicate that to them clearly. We’ll use signage, but more importantly, we’ll have troopers on the ground to be able to direct them.
Speaker 8: (15:50)
Is this going to be every vehicle coming into the state of Texas?
Steve McCraw: (15:52)
We’re going to ensure every commercial vehicle that enters the state of Texas is safe.
Speaker 8: (15:56)
And how do you have a sort of probable cause?
Steve McCraw: (16:00)
We don’t need probable cause to do safety commercial vehicle enforcement inspections, and that’s what we’re doing. It’s not a subterfuge to locate crime. It’s simply to make sure that those vehicles are safe when they enter Texas.
Speaker 8: (16:11)
I just wanted to make sure that’s clear.
Steve McCraw: (16:12)
Speaker 8: (16:13)
I also want to bring up the fact that Operation Lone Star is needing an additional $531 million. I guess we could speak to, is this something that we can see funded? And we’re talking about these operations, both from DPS, as well as the Texas Department or Emergency Management, is there funding to make this happen consistently?
Greg Abbott: (16:30)
To achieve what we’re talking about right now requires no additional funding right now. Obviously, as you’re pointing out, you’re pointing out an issue that was raised in hearings earlier this week. And that’s the reality, and that is securing the border does not come cheap. Securing the border would cost Texas nothing if the federal government was doing its job, but because Joe Biden is not securing the border, the state of Texas is having to step up and spend Texas taxpayer money doing the federal government’s job. Texans have a backbone and the will to secure the border, two things that Joe Biden does not have.
Speaker 5: (17:02)
All right, next outlet. Yep.
Speaker 9: (17:04)
Regarding the charter buses, how many are we talking? When is it set to begin? And can you clarify, you’re talking about migrants who are like mass released from the federal government into Texas towns that don’t have the infrastructure for it. You’re going to put them on charter buses and take them to D.C?
Greg Abbott: (17:21)
I’m going to answer the latter part and let Chief Kidd answer the first part. Yes. So the Biden administration, as we speak, with the current numbers, even before the elimination of Title 42, they’ve been dumping large numbers of my migrants in cities up and down the border, leaving the cities to grapple with challenges they don’t have the capability of dealing with. They themselves have been putting these migrants on buses to San Antonio. So I said I’ve got a better idea. As opposed to busing these people to San Antonio, let’s continue the ride all the way to Washington D.C. [crosstalk 00:17:54] Hold on a second. He gets to respond to the first part of the question.
Nim Kidd: (17:57)
Thank you. The first part of the question, the long answer is in past disasters, we have pulled up to 900 buses for operations to do evacuations. We will use as many buses as we need to follow the Governor’s direction to get this done.
Speaker 5: (18:10)
Two more questions.
Speaker 10: (18:11)
Is there a place in D.C. that you all are planning to send these migrants to? Is there a designated area you guys have in this plan?
Greg Abbott: (18:18)
The first location will be the steps of the United States Capitol.
Speaker 5: (18:21)
Speaker 11: (18:22)
Governor, there was reports today that you would declare an invasion and deputize National Guard and state troopers. You didn’t mention that today. Is that something that you have planned to do in order to send migrants back across the border?
Greg Abbott: (18:34)
Well, first, I’ve got to tell you. You’ve got to question your sources because apparently they’re not good, but secondly, what I’ll tell you largely speaking in that is, as I pointed out earlier, there will be more announcements next week, where Texas is evaluating every tool that we can possibly use to make sure that we are doing everything we can to secure the border, period.
Speaker 5: (18:51)
Great. Thank you guys so much.