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Gov. Abbott issues disaster declaration in response to 'border crisis'

"Texas will have more resources and strategies at our disposal [...] to combat criminal activities stemming from the border crisis," the governor said.

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration on Tuesday, June 1, along Texas's southern border in response to what the governor calls the "border crisis." 

The governor is authorizing the use of "all necessary and available state and local resources" in response to an influx of illegal border crossings at the Texas-Mexico border.

On Monday, June 28, Abbott revised that disaster declaration to only include the 28 counties that have locally declared a disaster and agreed to partner with the State on its border security efforts. The initial declaration included 34 counties.

Counties included in the disaster declaration are Brewster, Brooks, Crockett, Culberson, DeWitt, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Goliad, Gonzales, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Kimble, Kinney, La Salle, Lavaca, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Midland, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde and Zapata.

The governor said additional counties could be added if local disaster declaration are issued.

"By declaring a state of disaster in these counties, Texas will have more resources and strategies at our disposal to protect landowners and enforce all federal and state laws to combat criminal activities stemming from the border crisis," the governor said in a press release.

Gov. Abbott is directing the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to enforce all federal and state criminal laws, "including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking." He is also directing the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to discontinue state licensure of child care facilities under contract with the federal government that "shelters or detains unlawful immigrants." 

The governor is directing the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to "provide appropriate guidance and request any necessary waivers" to give counties flexibility to "establish adequate alternative detention facilities or otherwise add or expand capacity."

"I am grateful for our local partners in our South Texas and border communities who are willing to work alongside the State to keep Texans safe and secure the border," said Gov. Abbott. "This amended declaration will ensure that resources and support are surged where they are needed most." 

In a press release, the governor blamed President Joe Biden for problems at the border.

"President Biden's open-border policies have paved the way for dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers and deadly drugs like fentanyl to pour into our communities," the governor said. "Meanwhile, landowners along the border are seeing their property damaged and vandalized on a daily basis while the Biden Administration does nothing to protect them."

After the governor released his disaster declaration Tuesday, he tweeted an endorsement from former President Donald Trump. 

"No governor has done more to secure the border and keep our communities safe than Gov.  Abbott," President Trump's endorsement read in part.

“President Trump is a great friend of Texas, and I thank him for his endorsement,” Gov. Abbott said in a statement.

The governor's disaster declaration comes after he has launched other initiatives at the border this year. In March, the governor launched Operation Lone Star to combat the smuggling of people and drugs into Texas.

According to the declaration, the governor has deployed 1,000 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and hundreds of soldiers from the Texas National Guard to the border in 2021. 

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