Eleven South Texas counties have been removed from Gov. Greg Abbott’s Border Crisis Disaster Declaration, issued in May. Hidalgo, Cameron, Willacy and Starr counties have refused to sign the local disaster declarations needed in order to deploy state troops and resources to arrest migrants in those areas.
Sandra Sanchez is a reporter for Nexstar Media’s Border Report. She told Texas Standard that the state disaster declaration facilitates Abbott’s plan to charge migrants who cross into the United States without authorization with criminal trespass.
“In order to add that criminal element, the areas would have to be declared local disaster areas,” Sanchez said.
Abbott has also announced that he wants to build a border wall in Texas, and wants to detain migrants who cross into Texas illegally for up to six months.
Sanchez says county judges in the communities that did not sign local disaster declarations have not seen the increase in migrant-caused crime that Abbott claims makes the disaster declarations necessary. On the contrary, Sanchez says Starr County officials tell her they are overwhelmed by state troopers with little or nothing to do in the area.
Presidio and Hudspeth counties in West Texas have signed local disaster declarations. Sanchez says officials in sparsely populated Hudspeth County say they don’t have the resources needed to address the increasing number of migrants in that area.
“Their ambulances, their first responders, are being used to track migrants, to help migrants who are getting lost, who are dying in the desert out in West Texas,” Sanchez said. “They are reporting ranches being broken into, houses with fires set, cars hijacked.”
Sanchez says she is surprised that Abbott and former President Donald Trump, who are visiting Hidalgo County on Wednesday, didn’t choose to travel farther west, where crime has increased and officials are more supportive of Abbott’s border initiatives.