FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesAbbott Announces Texas Will Transport Illegal Aliens by Charter Bus to U.S. Capitol Steps

Republicans have pressured Abbott to take more aggressive action against illegal immigration by challenging the federal government.
April 6, 2022
Gov. Greg Abbott announced at an event in Weslaco that the state will use charter buses to evacuate illegal aliens from Texas and send them to Washington, D.C., where they will be dropped off on “the steps of the United States Capitol.”

The governor made the remarks in a press conference with Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw, Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Chief Nim Kidd, and Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer of the Texas National Guard.

“We are sending them to the United States Capitol where the administration will be able to immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowed to come across our border,” Abbott said.

In a press release after the news conference, the governor’s office clarified that the transportation to D.C. would not be forced and would require federal paperwork.

“To board a bus or flight, a migrant must volunteer to be transported and show documentation from [the U.S. Department of Homeland Security]. Mayors and county judges can notify TDEM of any DHS-facilitated drop-off of migrants in their communities so that the agency can provide appropriate transportation,” the press release stated.

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Abbott also stated that DPS will also be conducting enhanced inspections of vehicles entering Texas through international ports of entry.

The governor said the inspections will take place “on Texas property, on Texas roadways,” and that “there will be no constitutional issues that can validly be raised against it.”

In response to questions from reporters, McCraw said, “We don’t need probable cause to do safety, commercial vehicle inspections.”

Kidd stated that up to 900 buses have been used for evacuations in the past, but the number of buses to be used for transporting illegal aliens to Washington, D.C. is not set in stone.

“We will use as many buses as we need to follow the governor’s direction to get this done,” Kidd said.

Abbott further announced that the state would deploy “boat blockades” and that razor wire would be used in shallow portions of the Rio Grande. The Texas National Guard will also be conducting “mass migration rehearsals” with riot gear to prepare for the possibility of violence by caravans of illegal aliens, the governor explained.

Suelzer stated that residents in certain areas of the Rio Grande Valley, such as in the Anzalduas bridge area, Eagle Pass, Del Rio, Laredo, and Zapata, should expect increased military activity as the Texas National Guard prepares to use non-lethal means to deter illegal immigration.

Abbott’s announcement is part of his response to the federal government’s decision to end the application of Title 42 beginning on May 23. He stated that these actions are phase one of his response and more details would be announced next week.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention formally announced last week that the agency’s director had decided that “an Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary.”

The Trump administration invoked Title 42 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Biden administration continued the policy as a “public health imperative” even as President Biden sought to reverse many of his predecessor’s immigration policies.

Members of Congress expressed fears that ending the application of Title 42 would result in a deluge of illegal immigration across the southern border. Abbott reiterated in Weslaco that the federal government is preparing for up to 18,000 encounters with illegal aliens every day.

The governor has also faced pressure from some within his own party to take more assertive action against the federal government to secure the border.

In an interview with The Texan last week, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX-21) stated that Abbott should “stop treading lightly.”

“The bottom line is you can’t win this prosecuting trespassing crimes,” Roy said in reference to Operation Lone Star, Abbott’s border security effort.

“What would we do if we were a stand-alone sovereign nation? That’s what we should do. Muster your own force. Sit down at the river and turn people away, and if you’re not willing to do that or if that doesn’t go far enough, then shut down I-35 and tell the rest of the country to kiss our a– until the border is secure.”

Abbott overwhelmingly won the Republican nomination on March 1 of this year despite having several challengers that criticized him for his ostensibly insufficient response to illegal immigration. The governor, who first took office in 2015, has taken many steps since Biden’s inauguration, including commencing the state border wall and Operation Lone Star.

According to the latest figures published by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, there were more than 97,000 enforcement encounters with illegal aliens in Texas border patrol sectors the month before last, while there were almost 968,000 encounters reported nationwide through February of this fiscal year.

Update: This article has been updated with additional information from Abbott’s office.


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."