Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Friday he had activated the state’s border security command center to try to prepare for a flood of illegal immigrants if the Biden administration follows through on ending the Title 42 pandemic border policy.
The Republican governor’s office said state employees will step up surveillance of the border to try to detect unauthorized crossers and will deploy razor wire to try to deter some crossings.
“Texas will not stand by as President Biden puts our state and our nation in danger by ending Title 42 expulsions and allowing dangerous criminals, illegal weapons, and deadly drugs like fentanyl to flow unabated into the United States, and exacerbating the humanitarian crisis at our southern border,” Mr. Abbott said.
All sides are waiting on a federal judge in Louisiana who is pondering whether the Biden administration acted lawfully in scheduling Title 42 to end on Monday.
But with no decision in hand on Friday, Mr. Abbott said he would do what he could to stiffen Texas’ defenses.
The Joint Border Security Operations Center, based at the Texas Department of Public Safety’s headquarters in Austin, will coordinate all the other resources the governor has thrown at the problem over the last months, including more National Guard troops and more state troopers assigned to the border.
Title 42 is a public health policy, triggered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to handle the coronavirus. The CDC concluded that illegal immigrants were a risk for spreading the virus, making Title 42 available to empower Homeland Security to immediately expel border jumpers.
Implemented by the Trump administration, the policy has been kept in place by Mr. Biden for 16 months, but he’s faced intense pressure from immigrant-rights supporters within his party, who said he bought into President Trump’s “racist” approach to immigration by keeping the policy.
The CDC last month concluded that the pandemic had eased sufficiently to end Title 42, with an end date of May 23.
GOP-led states sued to keep the policy in place, arguing the administration has not lifted pandemic policies in other areas and has not prepared for the coming influx of illegal immigrants.
Homeland Security says it is planning for up to 18,000 illegal immigrants at the southern border each day once Title 42 ends. In April, the department encountered 7,800 a day — already a record pace.
Texas has borne the brunt of the current surge and is expecting things to get worse with the end of Title 42.