Thursday, September 16, 2021

Texas is Now Jailing Migrants on Trespassing Charges

Texas is beginning to arrest migrants on trespassing charges along the U.S. – Mexico border as part of Republican Governor Greg Abbott’s actions that he claims are needed to decrease the number of border crossings.

So far at least 10 people have been jailed with more on the way. The arrests put in motion plans that Abbott first announced when he stated that Texas would continue building former President Trump’s border wall and called on other governors to deploy law enforcement and National Guard members to the southern border.

Robert Hurst, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice stated that the detainees are being held at what used to be an empty state prison in Dilley, Texas about 100 miles north of the border city of Laredo. According to Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez, all detainees so far have been single adult men.

He advised last week that the number of migrants arrested could increase to as many as 100 or 200 per day, which will quickly overwhelm the prison as well as the entire system. Most land along the southern Texas border is private but Martinez stated that his understanding was that state troopers would not arrest family units.

Last week, officials reported that they had encountered 55,805 members of families with children in June, which increased 25% from the previous month. Val Verde County, which has around 50,000 residents, has become the backdrop of Abbott’s criticism of President Biden over the border as the two-term governor has sought to take Trump’s mantle on immigration.

However, the largest Texas counties along the southern border, where crossings are typically the highest, have rejected Abbott’s offer to heighten enforcement and accept disaster declarations, which governors typically only grant during events like hurricanes or wildfire. Since the announcement Abbott stated that law enforcement would not be involved in ‘catch and release’ and said the people arrested would spend time behind bars.

But Martinez stated that he would handle those cases same as usually does, which means offering time served. “My office is working really hard to try to minimize the amount of time that they have to sit in that jail,” said Martinez.

ABC