EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Riots across the Rio Grande and increased high-speed chases of smugglers refusing to stop for Texas law enforcement are proof that the migrant crisis on the U.S. border isn’t over. And things are going to get worse unless the Biden administration stops sending mixed messages abroad and begins to work with Congress to discourage illegal immigration by enforcing the law, a Texas congressman says.
“I represent 40 percent of the Southern border. What I’m seeing in El Paso I see in other places and it’s dangerous. It’s only a matter of time before innocent Americans get sucked up into this,” said U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas.
Gonzales was in El Paso on Wednesday in the wake of a riot at the Paso del Norte port of entry where Customs and Border Protection officers and Border Patrol agents held back a crowd of 1,200 migrants trying to force their way into the United States last Sunday. The chaos forced a nearly five-hour border shutdown in which one American stuck on the Mexican side suffered diabetic shock and a pregnant woman’s water burst, he said.
The Biden administration on Wednesday released migrant apprehension data showing the number of foreign nationals being apprehended at the Southwest border fell in January and remain steady in February. The administration says the numbers show new policies are bringing order to the border.
But Republicans like Gonzales disagree. “As the temps rise, as it gets warmer, this border crisis is only going to bubble even more. You’re gong to see more people come over illegally,” he said.
Gonzales’ visit coincided with the Texas Department of Public Safety releasing data showing the number of high-speed chases along the Texas-Mexico border has tripled since December. That month, DPS troopers engaged in 17 vehicle pursuits, mostly of suspected migrant smugglers. The troopers in February chased 51 vehicles, the highest number in at least 13 months.
“Imagine driving to the store to get eggs, or you’re picking up your kids at school, or you’re driving to work and all of a sudden there’s a high-speed chase and you get wrapped up into it,” Gonzales said. “This is real. People think it will not happen to them. We know here in El Paso that the tragedies can happen. We have to get ahead of it, we have to stop it.”
El Paso has recorded rollovers with injuries during DPS and Border Patrol vehicle chases in the last year. A Monday night crash in Ozona, Texas, just an hour from the Mexican border claimed the lives of two Texans and three suspected undocumented migrants whose vehicle was fleeing authorities.
Gonzales said smugglers, not first responders, are to blame for the crashes. “Lawlessness has caused these high-speed chases,” he said. “First responders are doing everything they can. But ultimately, this is a federal issue, and this only stops when the president works with Congress to solve the problem.”
Biden in his first day in office proposed a framework for the legalization of millions of undocumented migrants already in the country. He also expressed support for giving migrants arriving at the U.S. border a more humane treatment.
Critics said those actions were interpreted in the rest of the world as a softening of U.S. immigration policies and led to 4.7 million people trying to come into the country — mostly between ports of entry — since then.