Texas conservatives and activists are due to hold a rally at the state capitol on Saturday to call for tougher border measures to stop the influx of drugs and migrants into the U.S. at the southern border – including a new bill to create a Texas Border Protection Unit.
The “How Many More?’’ rally in Austin, Texas, is being held to highlight the ongoing crisis at the southern border, now into its third year, and the devastation it has caused – and to call on state lawmakers to take further action to combat the crisis. Speakers at the event include Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, former Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan, Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd, activists tackling the fentanyl crisis, and victims of the ongoing crisis at the border.
Specifically, they are calling for the passage of House Bill 20 that would create a Texas Border Protection Unit, which would have the ability to “repel” illegal immigrants back to Mexico if they are caught crossing the southern border.
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It would mark the latest in a series of tough actions by the state in response to the yearslong migrant crisis. Texas has been at the forefront of that crisis, which regularly sees hundreds of thousands of migrant encounters at the southern border each month. Numbers are expected to spike once the Title 42 public health order, which allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants at the border, ends in a few weeks. While the administration says it is stiffening penalties for those entering the U.S. illegally, officials have also said they expect a surge in migration once the order ends on May 11.
Mark Meckler, president of the Convention of States Project and rally organizer, said he was disturbed by people talking about how it would require a change in presidential administrations to change the situation at the border.
“I just started to get sick to my stomach because basically what we’re talking about is that we’re all going to wait around another couple of years until there will be another 150,000 or so people dead from fentanyl overdoses, Lord knows how many more young girls raped and sold into sexual slavery, our ranchers being overrun, the cartels controlling the border, all of this stuff continuing on for two years,” he said.
“And the question came up, well, is that the only solution? Is that really what we have to do? Is it resigned to that kind of mayhem for the next two years? And it just didn’t seem like that’s the way we ought to proceed,” he said.
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Texas has surged resources to the border under the enormous Operation Lone Star, has bussed migrants to liberal “sanctuary” cities, and in November, Abbott invoked the ‘invasion clause’ to allow state forces to expel migrants.
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But the new bill would create the new unit – the Border Protection Unit – to arrest, detain and return illegal immigrants to Mexico. It would also make officers in that unit immune from criminal and civil liability.
Meckler said that bill is not about immigration law but about stemming an ongoing invasion at the border.
“We’re saying there is an invasion, appropriately declaring an invasion, and we expect the governor and the legislature to put the forces in place to repel that invasion,” he said.
He said the rally was planned long before it was decided that Title 42 would end on May 11, but he says it is appropriate.
“We’re about to see all heck break loose on our southern border,” he said. “2.5 million people are estimated to have been kept out of the country by the imposition of Title 42. And when that goes away, it’s going to be crazy down on the border. So, I just think the timing is perfect and God has a plan.”
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