MISSION, Texas (Border Report) — From the banks of the Rio Grande, 10 Republican governors laid out a 10-point immigration plan for the Biden administration to implement to thwart what they call is an unchecked “border crisis.”
“We are here today to shine a light on what is going on at the southern border and how it impacts all of our states and that’s why we put together this plan,” Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday as he stood shoulder to shoulder with the group of governors, led by Texan Greg Abbott, at Anzalduas Park, right across the border from Reynosa, Mexico.
“It’s a tragedy,” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said. “They have created this crisis and Americans know it.”
The visiting heads of states also included: Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp; Idaho Gov. Brad Little; Iowa Gov. Kim Reynold; Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte; Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine; Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon. (South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who last visited the Rio Grande Valley in July, was scheduled to visit Wednesday but was not among the group.)
The group was planning to tour the border region by land, air and sea, and was given an operational briefing by the Texas Division of Emergency Management prior to a noon news conference on Wednesday, Abbott said in response to a question from Border Report.
All of the visiting governors were among 26 governors who on Sept. 20 sent President Joe Biden a letter requesting a meeting to discuss the surge in migrants on the Southwest border, which they wrote are “unenforced borders.” When they didn’t hear back, that prompted the group’s gathering on Wednesday in the Rio Grande Valley.
“We’re not going to sit around while Joe Biden refuses to act,” Ducey said. “We’ve tried to meet with the president and be part of the solution but he refuses, even worse, he ignores us, just like he is ignoring the border and the wellbeing of the American people. Hopefully, he’ll hear the solutions and act.”
Their 10-point plan includes:
- Continuing Title 42 public health restrictions.
- Reinstating the Migrant Protection Protocols, or remain-in-Mexico policy that was started under President Donald Trump.
- Securing the border by completing the border wall.
- End policies that allows humanitarian parole of some migrants.
- Clearing the judicial backlog of 1.4 million pending immigration cases.
- Resuming the deportation of all criminals who are illegally in the United States.
- Adding federal resources specifically aimed at human trafficking and drug trafficking.
- Re-entering into all agreements with the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as Mexico.
- Sending a clear message to potential migrants to not come North.
- Deploying more federal law enforcement officers.
“President Joe Biden has caused a humanitarian crisis and chaos on our border. All Americans saw exactly what happened in Del Rio, Texas, last month and we know that chaos will be repeated unless and until President Biden takes action,” Abbott said.
Over 15,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, congregated under the Del Rio International Bridge in the remote South Texas border town last month, trying to claim asylum.
Several of the governors referenced the use of horse patrols, which eventually were suspended at the bridge after reports of abusive behavior by some of the Border Patrol agents toward some migrants.
“We can have an immigration policy that doesn’t include men on horseback herding migrants,” Ducey said. “President Biden: This is up to you. Are you willing to make the changes to keep Americans out of harm’s way?”
Many of the governors have sent National Guard troops and other law enforcement to the Southwest border.
A ring of National Guardsmen and humvees ringed the park as helicopters brought in the dignitaries on Wednesday. This is the same park that Abbott has repeatedly visited and where several congressional delegations have come to view the border.
Iowa Gov. Reynolds accused the Biden administration of “incentivizing illegal migration.” And she charged federal officials of “secretly transporting” 15 unaccompanied migrant girls to Des Moines in April without alerting state authorities.
Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said drug cartels take in over $400 million per month in profits by moving goods over the border. He added that “it would have been nice to have as many Democratic governors (attend on Wednesday) as well.”
“They give lip service to an issue, as they say the border is closed but their actions say otherwise,” Judd said.
Ohio Gov. DeWine worried the transport of drugs is fueling an opioid crisis in his state.
The governors also said the release of migrants is spreading coronavirus north of the border.
Ricketts said 18% of migrants encountered and apprehended on the border have tested positive for coronavirus, and he reported that “the Biden administration might have placed 40,000 COVID-positive people into our communities.”
Another bone of contention with the governors is the backlog of over 1.45 million pending immigration cases.
Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a nonpartisan nonprofit that tracks all immigration cases, however, reports a sharp uptick in case backlogs since Trump took office.
Nevertheless, Ricketts, of Nebraska, went so far as to call upon the resignation of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas “for abandoning his job and not doing what the Department of Homeland Security should do” in allowing so many migrants into the United States.
Said Steve McGraw, Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety: “We can’t wait for Washington to do it. We don’t need their permission to protect Texas.”
But migrant advocates and many Democrats complained that Wednesday’s visit was nothing more than an expensive and partisan “stunt.”
Albeit it was the largest amassing of Republican governors on the South Texas border in recent memory.
“Gov. Abbott’s taxpayer-funded campaign stop at the Texas border today with 10 [should be 9] additional Republican governors, some from as far away as Montana, Wyoming and Georgia, is nothing more than a political stunt and a distraction from his own massive failures,” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement. “What Abbott needs to do is stop taking cheap shots at refugees on the border, who are some of the most vulnerable people in the world, and instead have a press conference with the families of more than 700 Texans that froze to death less than eight months ago due to his failure to act and have a secure electric grid.”
Said Democratic National Committee Spokesperson Adonna Biel: “The Republican governors taking their political field trip to the U.S.-Mexico border are the same ones who stood idly by as Donald Trump spent four years destroying our immigration system and spreading vile, xenophobic rhetoric. If Republican governors want to make a statement about the border, maybe they can call on their Republican members of Congress to join President Biden and Democrats in working to rebuild and improve our immigration system instead of flying thousands of miles for a stunt designed to further their own political aspirations.”