Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on President Joe Biden to restore his predecessor’s immigration policies, arguing that this would be the most effective way to curb the flow of illegal immigrants at the U.S. southern border.
“This problem will continue to get worse, because of the policies that have been adopted by the Biden administration,” Abbott told Fox News on Sunday.
“What the president could do is to immediately put back in place the ‘Remain in Mexico’ protocols that were established in the prior administration. He could continue to build the wall along the border in South Texas. He could send a stronger message that these people should not be coming here.”
Upon taking office, Biden had taken steps to quickly overturn several Trump-era immigration policies that saw curbed the flow of illegal border crossings. This includes his predecessor’s cornerstone Migrant Protection Protocol, or “Remain in Mexico,” which effectively ended the problematic “catch and release” protocol given to U.S. border officers and significantly reduced the number of illegal immigrants arriving at the southern border in 2019.
In a return to the Obama-era policies that facilitate “catch-and-release,” the Biden administration is again releasing unaccompanied minors into the country. Republicans argue that Biden’s act has been interpreted as a green light for prospective migrants seeking to enter and stay in the United States.
“That is one of the reasons why there are so many people coming here. If you go back to the Democratic presidential debates, every single one of the Democrat candidates said, if they are elected, they will have open borders and they will be giving things for free to anybody coming across the border,” Abbott said.
“This is exactly why we’re seeing the flood, and the Biden administration was simply unprepared to deal with the massive inflow that are coming in, which is why they have so haphazardly responded to it and that’s why we’ve seen the dire consequences.”
The Biden administration, on the other hand, has sought to shift the blame on former President Donald Trump’s administration. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas previously said that the previous government had “dismantled the orderly, humane, and efficient way of allowing children to make their claims under United States law in their own country.”
Biden administration officials, such as acting CBP Commissioner Troy Miller, are also disputing claims that the surge of illegal immigration represents a fresh crisis. Miller has argued that the recent increase “is not new.”
“Encounters have continued to increase since April 2020, and our past experiences have helped us be better prepared for the challenges we face this year,” he said.
However, Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, recently told a roundtable with Republican members of Congress, Texas landowners, and law enforcement on April 7, that the numbers of illegal border crossings seen in recent weeks are “the biggest surge that we’ve ever seen in the history of the Border Patrol.”
“This surge is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before,” he said.
For the month of March, CBP agents encountered over 172,000 illegal immigrants, according to statistics released on April 8. This is up from just over 101,000 individuals encountered in February.
Among those who crossed illegally into the United States last month were over 18,800 unaccompanied minors, which is double the number of minors who illegally arrived in the United States in February at over 9,300 encounters. This is compared to 5,585 unaccompanied minors in January, and 4,993 unaccompanied minors in December 2020.
Other Republicans are also calling on Biden to return to Trump’s policies as a way to address the burgeoning crisis.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on April 6 that while the construction of the border wall has been paused, limited construction has already been “funded through a congressional authorization and funding allocation.”
She said that federal agencies are currently assessing wall contracts and are developing a plan to submit to the president in due course.
Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.