WASHINGTON. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott shrugged off a rebuke for calling the surge in illegal border crossings an “invasion” by stepping up the rhetoric on Thursday by warning that migrants in “military uniforms” were now making their way into Texas.
The governor’s office pointed to news reports of camouflage-clad migrants captured from February to May in remote areas of West Texas. None of the reports list weapons.
Migrants and smugglers have used camouflage clothing for years to avoid detection. There are numerous examples of captured camouflage-wearing migrants during Donald Trump’s administration, although Abbott pointed out that this is a new phenomenon during an interview with CNN in which he accused President Joe Biden of ignoring requests for help closing the border.
“Basically, we see that the people we face today are different from those we have seen in the past – they are people who come in military equipment, ready to withstand any test that they have to face when they cross the border. border and reach another destination later,” Abbott said. “We believe these are people who may be working in collaboration with the cartels or who may have nefarious deeds they want to do in the United States.”
Abbott met Biden on the airstrip Sunday in El Paso and handed him a letter accusing him of violating his “constitutional obligation to defend the States from invasion.”
NEW: 31 illegal immigrants wearing camouflage have been found smuggling in a trailer in western Texas’ Reeves County. U.S. driver arrested @TxDPS with the assistance of Texas gamekeepers and the US Border Patrol. Illegal immigrants apply to the border service. @FoxNews pic.twitter.com/u5CZRgW0b5
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) April 27, 2022
Tuesday a Dallas Morning News an editorial criticized Abbott for the letter, arguing that while much of his criticism of the actions and policies of the federal government is noteworthy, he “repeats the ugly rhetoric that characterizes the border crisis in military terms that risk portraying all migrants as enemy combatants.”
The editorial also chided Abbott for “playing for the cameras” and “opposing the Biden administration” for two years, “making it unlikely that Texas will improve its cooperation with the White House.”
Pressed by CNN’s Jake Tupper to respond to an editorial, Abbott said he was simply referring to a clause in the US Constitution that gives states the right to defend themselves if invaded.
“Jake, if this isn’t an invasion, what is?” he said, adding: “The drug cartels are invading the United States of America. And if Americans don’t know this, they need to wake up… Texas law enforcement alone has seized enough fentanyl… to kill every man, woman, and child in the entire United States of America. It could destroy us as a country. And it’s Texas, not the United States, that’s doing its best and trying to do something about it.”
The letter, which he personally delivered on Sunday, was his eighth request for federal assistance from Biden, Abbott said, adding that he also pleaded with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorcas.
“He refused to provide any help,” Abbott said of the president. “All without ears. Texas has been left alone as a frontier outpost, and we ourselves have to deal with a record number of millions of people crossing the border every year.”
In fiscal year 2022, Customs and Border Protection reported 98 encounters with foreigners on a terrorist watch list who crossed the US-Mexico border between ports of entry. This is a record.
All were detained, although many Republicans call this figure evidence of an “open border.”
“Very dangerous people crossing our border that the Biden administration is doing nothing to prevent them from entering the United States,” Abbott said. “If we have detained so many people on the terrorist watch list, think how many of those who paid more, who escaped detention, could be roaming the country trying to harm our country.”