EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Solving the nation’s immigration challenges won’t be easy and ultimately require decisive action by Congress, a border lawmaker says.
Proof of that is that neither stepped up border wall construction during the Trump administration nor the application of a public health order to swiftly expel newly arrived migrants have slowed down migration, said U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas.
“We have 1,900 miles of wall. That has not stopped, curbed or deterred migration. We’ve now had almost three years of Title 42. That has not stopped curbed or deterred migration,” she said.
Migrant encounters are already at historical levels and the Biden administration is bracing for the arrival of up to 18,000 a day – half a million per month – once Title 42 authority expires May 23.
Escobar said she has not been briefed yet on how the Biden administration intends to process migrants at ports of entry or elsewhere along the border after that date.
But she criticized Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for saying he’ll bus arriving migrants to Washington, D.C., have state troopers inspect trucks coming from Mexico to screen for migrant smuggling and have National Guardsmen conduct defensive exercises and boat blockades on the Rio Grande.
“It’s incredible we have a governor who treats vulnerable people this way,” Escobar said in a Thursday Zoom call with reporters. “If a person is a soldier or a migrant, he doesn’t care. For him, they represent an opportunity to advance his politics of hate and cruelty. He’s not focused on solutions or on working with Congress to really help Texans; he’s focused on winning (re-election) at any cost.”
The congresswoman opined Abbott’s announced actions don’t strike her as legal and will invite lawsuits.
“I don’t know if he’s really going to do what he says – I don’t think so. But if he wants to go through with this treatment of vulnerable people, I think someone will take him to court,” she said.
Abbott this week said he’s taking those actions to protect Texans.
“The Biden administration’s open border policies have paved the way for dangerous cartels and deadly drugs to pour into the United States, and this crisis will only be made worse by ending Title 42 expulsions,” Abbott said Tuesday.
Escobar said migrants enter the country without authorization because their legal pathways are limited.
“We should not be surprised that when you limit legal pathways that there will be an increase in irregular migration,” she said. “I absolutely am concerned about the increasing numbers of vulnerable migrants who are arriving not just in El Paso, but across the Southern border. Unfortunately, Congress and federal government administrations … have failed to strategically and thoughtfully address this growing trend.”
She said the House has passed or introduced bills to improve migrant processing, legalize immigrants brought into the country without authorization when they were children, and provide a path to citizenship for 11 million unauthorized migrants who’ve been in the U.S. for several years. Most of those bills remain stuck in the Senate.
“The idea there’s one quick fix couldn’t be further from the truth,” Escobar said. “There will have to be a number of pieces of legislation we will have to pass.”
In the meantime, she called for the Biden administration to shore up migrant processing capabilities through the hiring of civilians to do clerical work that will free up U.S. Border Patrol agents and U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers to return to their posts at ports of entry and on the vast stretches of U.S.-Mexico border. She is also advocating allowing migrants to apply for U.S. asylum from their home country.