By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — The first group of illegal immigrants bused from Texas to Washington, D.C., arrived Wednesday, one week after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was expanding the state’s border security initiative, Operation Lone Star.
The first bus arrived blocks from the Capitol building, transporting people from Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua who entered the U.S. illegally in the Del Rio Customs and Border Protection Sector in Texas, Gov. Abbott confirmed Wednesday.
A second bus is currently en route to Washington, D.C., he said.
“As the federal government continues to turn a blind eye to the border crisis, the state of Texas will remain steadfast in our efforts to fill in the gaps and keep Texans safe,” Gov. Abbott said in a statement. “By busing migrants to Washington, D.C., the Biden administration will be able to more immediately meet the needs of the people they are allowing to cross our border. Texas should not have to bear the burden of the Biden administration’s failure to secure our border.”
Last week, Gov. Abbott announced he was expanding OLS to include busing illegal immigrants released from federal custody into Texas to the U.S. Capitol building.
“With the end of Title 42 expulsions looming next month, Texas will immediately begin taking unprecedented action to do what no state has done in American history to secure our border,” Gov. Abbott said. “… We will use any and all lawful powers to curtail the flow of drugs, human traffickers, illegal immigrants, weapons and other contraband into Texas.”
Title 42 is a public health authority that allows CBP and Border Patrol agents to quickly expel illegal immigrants during a public health emergency. Because of the Biden administration’s open border policies and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas drastically curtailing most enforcement actions, Title 42 has been seen as the last measure in place holding back a deluge of illegal immigrants from entering the U.S. from more than 150 countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it was ending the policy May 23.
The Texas Department of Emergency Management is overseeing the busing operation, which began April 7. TDEM Chief Nim Kidd said at least 900 charter buses are available for use.
The state is transporting illegal immigrants who mostly would have been denied entry or deported if current immigration laws were being enforced. Instead of being denied entry and remaining in Mexico for their immigration process to be completed, as was ordered by the Supreme Court, illegal immigrants are being released into the U.S.
Because Texas shares the largest border with Mexico and has the busiest CBP sectors, Texas is bearing the brunt of Biden’s immigration policies, Gov. Abbott said. He said last week that Texas is chartering buses or commercial flights to transport illegal immigrants released into Texas to Washington, D.C.
After Gov. Abbott announced the plan, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week, “I think it’s pretty clear that this is a publicity stunt. I know that the governor of Texas, or any state, does not have the legal authority to compel anyone to get on a bus.”
According to the governor’s office, transportation is voluntary.
“A migrant must volunteer to be transported and show documentation from DHS,” the governor’s office said. “Mayors and county judges can notify TDEM of any DHS-facilitated drop-off of migrants in their communities so that the agency can provide appropriate transportation.”
In another development Wednesday, Gov. Abbott and the governor of the Mexican state of Nuevo León signed a memorandum of understanding expressing their shared commitment to increase security along their shared border.
Gov. Abbott and Gov. Samuel García signed the agreement at a news conference in Laredo, Texas.