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Texas state troopers returned 3,900 illegal immigrants to border

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 8/10/2022 Anna Giaritelli

EXCLUSIVE: AUSTIN, Texas — Texas state troopers have taken custody of and returned to the border several thousand migrants who illegally crossed from Mexico, according to the governor’s office.

In the five weeks since Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) directed police forces to arrest and transport back to ports of entry any person suspected of illegally entering the United States from Mexico, the state has returned nearly 4,000 people that Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety officers have apprehended in the more than a year that they have been deployed to the border under Operation Lone Star.

"Over 3,900 have been returned," a spokeswoman told the Washington Examiner Tuesday.

The state is attempting to help federal officials return to Mexico a fraction of the people they encounter, but it is not known what percentage of total illegal immigrants that Texas state police and military officers encountered at the border over the past month have been returned. Texas has not disclosed what criteria it uses to decide if someone is transported to ports of entry for return, arrested by local officials, or transferred to the Border Patrol.

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Last month, Abbott authorized state officials to "return those illegal immigrants to the border at a port of entry" in a July 7 executive order. The order suggests that Texas authorities will not enter Mexico but rather drop people off at U.S. Customs and Border Protection-run ports of entry to be returned south.

Abbott's July announcement followed the Fourth of July weekend, when border officials in his state reported 5,000 illegal immigrant apprehensions. Roughly 7,000 people have been caught illegally entering the country daily in recent months, the majority of whom attempt to cross into Texas rather than Arizona, California, or New Mexico.

"While President Biden refuses to do his job and enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress, the State of Texas is once again stepping up and taking unprecedented action to protect Americans and secure our southern border," Abbott said in a statement.

A Texas Department of Public Safety officer directs a group of migrants who crossed the border and turned themselves in, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Eric Gay/AP © Provided by Washington Examiner A Texas Department of Public Safety officer directs a group of migrants who crossed the border and turned themselves in, Wednesday, June 16, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Eric Gay/AP

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, federal officials have been allowed to expel to Mexico immediately any immigrant caught attempting to enter the United States illegally from Mexico.

Border Patrol agents who work on the land between the ports of entry where migrants illegally cross and are apprehended have had the temporary authority to expel migrants to Mexico rather than take people into custody. Under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Title 42 recommendation two and a half years ago, Border Patrol and CBP officers at the ports may turn away asylum-seekers and expel illegal immigrants on the basis that taking them into custody could worsen the spread of the coronavirus.

Now, the Abbott initiative has local and state law enforcement transporting migrants back to ports of entry, where federal customs officers can process and return people to Mexico, though CBP has not commented about facilitating the returns.

A Texas Tribune report Monday said the outlet recently observed state troopers appearing to drop off illegal immigrants at federal facilities at a port of entry in Eagle Pass, Texas, an indication of cooperation between the state and federal agencies.

“Simply put, migrants are being held on federal property in violation of the [federal standards] and in potentially dangerous conditions,” the American Civil Liberties Union wrote in a letter to DHS Monday, urging the government not to work with the state.

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Only federal law enforcement officials like the U.S. Border Patrol have the legal authority to enforce immigration laws, which are federal rather than state or local ordinances, calling into question the state's legal authority to transport illegal immigrants back to the border.

Texas is already in deep legal trouble with the federal government, according to an earlier ProPublica/Texas Tribune report. The U.S. Department of Justice is looking into whether Texas police and military officers assigned to the border violated civil rights laws by subjecting arrestees to “differential and unlawful conditions of confinement based on their perceived or actual race or national origin.” Texas DPS has also been at the center of a ProPublica investigation into how it enhanced arrest statistics for Operation Lone Star.

Last week, Texas reported that more than 290,700 illegal immigrants had been detained under its 18-month-long Operation Lone Star border security initiative, which sent 10,000 soldiers and state police on border-related missions.

 

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Tags: Border Crisis, National Security, Texas, Greg Abbott, Immigration

Original Author: Anna Giaritelli

Original Location: Texas state troopers returned 3,900 illegal immigrants to border

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