Fact Check: Are Migrants Causing ‘Carnage’ At The Texas Border?

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Brandon Mulder, PolitiFact/Austin American-Statesman; radio story produced by Alexandra HartJuly 7, 2021 10:15 am, , ,

From PolitiFact Texas:

In April, the local elected officials of Kinney County felt that they were under siege. Their expanse of rocky borderland located 100 miles west of San Antonio had become a perilous crossing ground for migrants who had made their way across the Rio Grande.

So Kinney County Judge Tully Shahan took an unprecedented measure. He issued a local state of disaster, a statutory procedure typically invoked by communities experiencing hurricanes, floods or wildfires.

“On April 21, 1836, Texas won her independence during the battle at San Jacinto, the final and decisive battle of the Texas Revolution,” Shahan, a Republican, wrote in the disaster declaration. “Today, 185 years later, Texas is once again under siege, as thousands upon thousands of illegal aliens invade our State through our border with Mexico.”

The move caught momentum. Over the next month, similar declarations were issued by another 14 counties – some located along the border, others more than 200 miles away.

By May 31, the issue culminated in Gov. Greg Abbott issuing his own disaster proclamation, citing a “humanitarian crisis in many Texas communities along the border.” Then he took his border response one step further when, on June 16, he announced that Texas would undertake border wall construction using a combination of state dollars and crowdfunding to stave off what he and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called an invasion.

“What has changed is the carnage that is being caused by the people coming across the border,” Abbott said in a press conference announcing his border wall plans. “Fences of ranchers along the border are being completely decimated causing border ranchers to lose their livestock or border farmers to lose their crops. Homes are being invaded. Neighborhoods are dangerous, and people are being threatened on a daily basis with guns.”

Later, Patrick added that “this is a fight for our survival.”

The crush of migrants crossing into Texas has spiked by 360% so far this year compared with the first half of 2020, according to federal data. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol has recorded nearly 400,000 migrant encounters in Texas this year, although a large portion of this total, up to 38% in some months, is due to migrants re-entering the country after at least one prior expulsion.

Read the full story and see how Abbott’s claim scored at PolitiFact. And listen to an interview with PolitiFact’s Brandon Mulder in the audio player above.

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