Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday that he’ll set up new, state-run checkpoints to inspect trucks for human-trafficking operations in response to the horrific deaths of 53 migrants in the rear of a sweltering tractor-trailer.
Abbott again blamed President Biden for Monday’s incident in San Antonio, saying it came after the big rig carrying the doomed migrants wasn’t inspected when it passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint in Encinal, Texas, about three hours earlier.
“It wasn’t inspected because the Border Patrol does not have the resources to inspect all the trucks and as a result, the Border Patrol did not have the capability of saving those lives,” Abbott said.
“Mr. President, you can fix that.”
Abbott then announced that “in Texas, we once again are going to try to step up and play a role by the state to address this catastrophe that President Biden is responsible for.”
Abbott said the Texas Department of Public Safety would “immediately” set up additional checkpoints and “begin targeting trucks like the one that was used where these people perished.”
The move will “make sure that we will have a better capability of perhaps stopping future trucks like that, as well as stopping the smugglers and the cartel members who were trying to profiteer off it,” he said.
Abbott, who spoke during a news conference in Eagle Pass near the southern border, also outlined plans for the DPS to set up two “strike teams” of 20 state troopers each to “detect, deter and apprehend unlawful crossings of illegal immigrants.”
“They will be deployed immediately, right here in Eagle Pass,” he said.
“Additional strike teams will be deployed to high-traffic crossing areas, as needed.”
DPS Director Steve McCraw said the checkpoint workers would be looking for “clone trucks and vehicles” disguised to appear”legitimate,” while the strike teams would conduct highway “surveillance” and seek out “stash houses” for trafficked migrants.
Abbott said the Texas National Guard would also be “adding miles of fencing and barriers on state and local property, once again, prioritizing the high-traffic areas.”
The National Guard is already “deploying additional miles of concertina, military-grade razor wire along the Rio Grande” and will be “adding boat teams, where feasible, along the river,” he said.
The head of the guard, Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer, said agreements were in place to add 55 miles of new border fencing on private property in Maverick County, with half of it already installed.
“We have also put over eight linear miles of concertina wire, much of which you can see here along the border in Maverick County,” he said.
Abbott said he talked earlier with local Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr., who claimed “the situation in Eagle Pass has gone from bad to worse with the increased number of people coming through this area.
“The bottom line is this: Despite the increasing numbers, despite these caravans on the Mexico side of the border right now, the Biden administration still is doing nothing whatsoever to stop it,” Abbott said.
Biden, who is attending a NATO summit in Madrid, on Tuesday accused Abbott of “political grandstanding around tragedy,” calling it as “shameful” as “exploiting vulnerable individuals for profit.”
In a statement, Biden also pledged that “my Administration will continue to do everything possible to stop human smugglers and traffickers from taking advantage of people who are seeking to enter the United States between ports of entry.”