Migrants cross into US amid Governor Abbott’s visit to Eagle Pass

100 DPS troopers and new checkpoints in the works to enhance border security

EAGLE PASS, Texas – In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott said Eagle Pass has become “ground zero” for the increase of migrant crossings.

“Eagle Pass is part of the Del Rio sector, and the Del Rio sector has seen the largest number of illegal crossings in the past week,” Abbott said. “There was a time when most of the illegal crossings would take place in the Rio Grande Valley, and that’s no longer true. Right now, we’re at ground zero from here to Del Rio, where we have the largest number of border crossings. And we have information indicating that there could be a meaningful rise in the number of border crossings in this region.”

On Monday, Border Patrol Del Rio Sector reported 2,915 apprehensions of undocumented immigrants. Minutes before Abbott arrived for a scheduled press conference under Eagle Pass’ International Bridge II Wednesday, a group of undocumented immigrants defied the governor’s Operation Lone Star efforts and crossed the Rio Grande River into the U.S. It is a situation that has federal and local agencies, like the Eagle Pass Police Department, overwhelmed.

“The police agencies will have big challenges coming through not only from illegal immigration, an active shooter and everything else that come with it. So, we’re really being stretched too thin,” Garza said.

Garza leads a group of about 40 active police officers. He along with Maverick County Sheriff Tom Schmerber met with the governor Wednesday morning to discuss added border security strategies.

“What we’re doing with the Department of Public Safety, we’re putting Strike Forces,” Garza said. “They’re helping us out to do operations at night, and also they’re helping us where our resources cannot go.”

According to Abbott, each DPS Strike Force team is made up of 20 troopers.

“(The goal) is to detect, deter and apprehend unlawful crossings of illegal immigrants,” Abbott said. “They will be deployed immediately right here in Eagle Pass… Additional Strike Teams will be deployed to high traffic crossing areas as needed separate.”

In total, 100 additional troopers are scheduled to assist with efforts throughout Maverick County.

Abbott also vowed to create new vehicle inspection checkpoints run by DPS. The announcement came days after more than 50 migrants died in a smuggling attempt in San Antonio.

“Joe Biden may not be stepping up to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but Texas is going to step up and do our part to try to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Abbott said. “Our job is to surprise the cartels and the smugglers, not to tell them in advance where we will be.”

The location and timeline of the checkpoints were not made clear Wednesday.

“(The governor) talked about Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Strike Teams,” Steven McCraw, the director of DPS, said. “Our troopers have the authority to work commercial vehicle traffic. They’re trained in it and have the expertise along with civilian inspectors… I can assure you our troops will be able to identify whether it’s legitimate or not to take action at that point in time.”

Still, Abbott said help is needed from the federal government and asked President Joe Biden to fully fund Border Patrol.

“Many of these deaths could be prevented if Biden simply fully funded the Border Patrol operation of the United States of America and implemented the policies that the Border Patrol needs in order to do their real job,” Abbott said. “And the real job is not the paper processing work that they’ve been assigned to do.”

About the Authors

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.

William Caldera has been at KSAT since 2003. He covers a wide range of stories including breaking news, weather, general assignments and sports.

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