Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told President Joe Biden on Tuesday that his “disaster” immigration policy is putting lives at risk as a polar vortex expected this week will create bitter conditions for the thousands of illegal immigrants who continue to trek into the U.S.
“With cold temperatures gripping Texas, your inaction to secure the southern border is putting the lives of migrants at risk, particularly in the City of El Paso,” the Republican governor told Biden in a letter. “Your policies will leave many people in the bitter, dangerous cold as a polar vortex moves into Texas.”
“This terrible crisis for border communities in Texas is a catastrophe of your own making,” Abbott wrote.
The governor said Biden has failed in his constitutional duty to protect the border, which disproportionately impacts Texas.
“These communities and the state are ill-equipped to do the job assigned to the federal government – house the thousands of migrants flooding into the country every day,” Abbott wrote. “With perilous temperatures moving into the area, many of these migrants are at risk of freezing to death on city streets.”
Abbott warned that the situation would only get worse if the Title 42 policy ends this week. That pandemic-era policy allows border agents to turn migrants away at the border, and ending it could lead to a surge of migrants at the southern border just as Texas faces some of its coldest temperatures.
The Title 42 policy was set to expire Wednesday, but an appeal is being heard by the Supreme Court, which could decide as early as Tuesday evening. The Department of Homeland Security projects between 9,000 and 15,000 migrant encounters a day once the policy ends, which would add to the already highest annual total of encounters in U.S. history.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted an end to Title 42 would not mean the border is open. To suggest so, she said, is misinformation and “doing the work of these smugglers.” Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tasked with identifying the root cause of mass migration to the southern border, has insisted in recent months that the border is secure.
Abbott took issue with this White House messaging on the border.
“You and your administration must stop the lie that the border is secure and, instead, immediately deploy federal assets to address the dire problems you have caused,” Abbott wrote.
Abbott said he would continue to work with state-based officials to stem the tide of illegal immigration.
“While you must step up and perform your constitutional duties, I will continue my work with the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Division of Emergency Management, the Texas Military Department, and all other available state assets to protect Texas from the torrent of migrants and cartel activity streaming into our state,” he wrote.