White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said Texas Gov. Greg Abbott “declined” an offer of federal funds to pay for CCP virus testing for illegal immigrants, adding that the administration hopes “he’ll reconsider.”
“The governor has complained about testing at the border,” Psaki said in an interview on MSNBC on Sunday. “FEMA, DHS has worked with local authorities, has worked with local NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] to come up with a plan that would cover 100 percent of testing costs for migrants who cross the border.”
“He has declined that funding,” she said. “That is something that doesn’t help the people of Texas, and we’re certainly hopeful that he’ll reconsider.”
Federal officials have asked Texas to assist with this issue, Abbott said Thursday, but he declined, saying testing and quarantining migrants is the federal government’s job.
“Border security is strictly a federal responsibility. The federal government alone has the responsibility to test, screen, and quarantine illegal immigrants crossing our border who may have COVID,” Abbott said in a statement. “Instead of doing their job, the Biden administration suggested it did not have the sufficient resources and, remarkably, asked Texas to assist them in aiding their illegal immigration program. Texas refused.”
A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson told CNN on Friday that the department has been working with local officials in Texas to provide CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus testing and its agreement with partners called for federal funds to cover expenses related to testing, isolation, and quarantine.
“We hope that Gov. Abbott will reconsider his decision to reject DHS’s agreement with the Texan local authorities that would enable the very testing of migrant families that Gov. Abbott says he wants,” the spokesperson said.
A Texas Division of Emergency Management spokesperson told Forbes that Abbott has sent some 40,000 virus tests to four border towns since late January, to help those communities deal with an influx of people crossing the border.
It comes as President Joe Biden and Abbott have been sparring over CCP virus protocols and measures in Texas. After Abbott announced last week that he was lifting restrictions on businesses in Texas and doing away with mask mandates, Biden denounced that decision as “Neanderthal thinking.”
Abbott alleged in interviews and social media posts that Biden’s immigration policies were the real threat and accused the president of releasing migrants with the CCP virus into Texas.
“The Biden administration has been releasing immigrants in south Texas that have been exposing Texans to COVID,” Abbott, a Republican, said in a CNBC interview Thursday.
That followed a March 3 tweet in which Abbott said, “The Biden Administration is recklessly releasing hundreds of illegal immigrants who have COVID into Texas communities. The Biden Admin. must IMMEDIATELY end this callous act that exposes Texans & Americans to COVID.”
The dispute between Biden and Abbott follows reports that over 100 virus-positive illegal immigrants were released by U.S. Border Patrol since January, according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, Abbott launched a program on March 6 that will deploy state National Guard troops and personnel from other agencies to respond to the burgeoning crisis at the southern border.
“Texas supports legal immigration but will not be an accomplice to the open border policies that cause, rather than prevent, a humanitarian crisis in our state and endanger the lives of Texans,” Abbott said in a statement to media outlets on March 6.
Abbott said Operation Lone Star will deploy air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets to prevent Mexican criminal organizations from smuggling drugs and people into Texas.