Migrants Rush Border As Fight Heats Up

The surge in migrant encounters in Texas during December has sparked a heated debate between Republican Governor Greg Abbott and the federal government. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data reveals that approximately 300,000 migrants entered the US through Mexico in December, with nearly 10,000 per day. Of these, around 250,000 crossed between ports of entry. Texas alone accounted for 155,789 migrant encounters during this period.

Last year, encounters with migrants by federal border agents reached a new peak at 2.5 million, breaking the former record. Since 2022, Governor Abbott has spotlighted this issue on a national level by sending migrants to Democratic-controlled “sanctuary cities,” which offer protections to undocumented immigrants. Faced with the massive arrival of migrants, Democratic mayors and governors across different cities and states have sought additional support from the Biden administration, requesting more federal aid to help with shelter and healthcare expenses.

The CBP data indicates a significant increase of 39,122 migrant encounters in Texas between November and December of the current fiscal year. However, this contrasts with the decrease of approximately 10,000 encounters recorded between October and November. Comparing the December encounters to the previous fiscal year, there was an increase of roughly 1,000 migrants. The disparity is even more striking when compared to the numbers from 2022 and 2021, when 105,705 and 45,393 migrants were detained at the Texas border, respectively.

The majority of encounters in Texas this year have involved single adults and family unit aliens, which refers to children apprehended with one or both parents or legal guardians. Conversely, the number of single minors and unaccompanied children has decreased.

Recently, with its conservative majority, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of allowing federal Border Patrol agents to remove razor wire and other barriers to curbing immigration. This decision has further fueled tensions between Texas and the Biden administration. Governor Abbott has vowed to continue utilizing the Texas National Guard to address the record numbers of migrant encounters.

In December, a federal appeals court determined that Texas must move a 1,000-foot barrier it had placed in the Rio Grande. Designed with large buoys equipped with serrated discs, this barrier aimed to block migrants from crossing the river into Eagle Pass, a Texas border city. Nonetheless, the US District Court for the Western District of Texas overturned the Department of Justice’s legal action against Texas and Governor Abbott concerning the obstruction.

Esther Sung, legal director of the Justice Action Center, has spoken out against these measures, referring to them as part of Texas’s “playbook of cruelty” towards individuals seeking safety. Sung believes that the conservative courts in the 5th Circuit are enabling Texas’s attempts to override federal authority. She also criticizes the Biden administration for not taking sufficient political or legal action to counter these measures, which she claims have cost lives and go against the wishes of most Americans.