President López Obrador on Friday described Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s plan to use state security forces to detain illegal immigrants as “vulgar” and “immoral.”
Abbott on Thursday issued an executive order “authorizing and empowering the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety to apprehend illegal immigrants who illegally cross the border between ports of entry and return them to the border,” according to a press release.
“While President Biden refuses to do his job and enforce the immigration laws enacted by Congress, the state of Texas is once again stepping up and taking unprecedented action to protect Americans and secure our southern border,” the governor said.
López Obrador told reporters at his regular news conference that “it is not [Abbott’s] legal responsibility to make that decision” but one of the federal government.
“Even though we are respectful of the sovereignty of other countries, we see that there are anti-immigrant campaigns for electoral purposes. I consider it immoral, political,” he said.
“… Doing this is very vulgar and it doesn’t have a legal foundation because it’s not up to [state authorities],” López Obrador said. “I’m sure that President Biden doesn’t approve … and the State Department is already questioning the measure,” he said.
Abbott’s executive order came less than two week after 51 mainly Mexican migrants perished after being trapped in stifling conditions in a tractor-trailer found abandoned in San Antonio, Texas. The Republican governor is vying to win a third term at an election against Democratic Party candidate Beto O’Rourke in November.
The United States is currently seeing record numbers of migrants arriving at its southern border. There were 1.7 million encounters between United States Customs and Border Protection personnel and migrants in the 2021 U.S. fiscal year, an increase of 77% compared to 2019. In the first seven months of the current fiscal year, encounters were up 73% and had already exceeded numbers for the entire 2019 fiscal year.
The press release issued by Abbott’s office said “the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42 expulsions [to stop the spread of the coronavirus] and the Remain in Mexico policy has led to historic levels of illegal crossings, with 5,000 migrants being apprehended over the July 4th weekend, creating a border crisis that has overrun communities along the border and across Texas.”
López Obrador asserted that the executive order Abbott believes will help address that crisis won’t win him votes among migrants in Texas.
“I don’t believe that the migrants who have … contributed to the construction of that great country, … [including] of course our compatriots will like this anti-immigrant policy, it’s an aberration,” he said.