AUSTIN, Texas — On Monday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott joined KVUE live at 5 p.m. to discuss the latest headlines around Texas, including the Texas power grid, border policies and controversy regarding the release of hallway video from the Uvalde school shooting incident.
Here is an edited transcript of Abbott's conversation with anchors Bryan Mays and Ashley Goudeau:
Let's start with the topic on a lot of minds today in this triple-digit heat, our power grid. In February, you describe the grid as "the most reliable and resilient than it's ever been." It's July. We are being asked to conserve, voluntarily conserve. Are we prepared for potentially hotter August?
So, if you look at the way the grid has performed so far, it's performed remarkably well. As you all were talking about tonight and many nights before tonight, we've set record after record of high temperature and record demands for energy. And there was a conservation notice put out last night, and it was put out because of the concern that we might get within 2,300 megawatts of power supply surplus. It turned out we didn't even get close to that. So, this was an early warning of what could have happened. But in talking to the chair of the Public Utilities Commission, he told me that the tools that we've put in place through the laws that we passed in the last session gave him the flexibility and ERCOT the flexibility they needed to ensure that we had even more supply than what we anticipated needing. Bottom line, we've made it through all of these tough days with plenty of supply, and we believe that going forward with the tools that ERCOT now has and the PUC now has, we will be able to make it through the summer. Know this important fact: since Winter Storm Uri and since the new reforms that were put in place, no Texan has lost power as a result of any problem with ERCOT.
All right, governor, let's turn to the border. You issued an executive order last week directing the National Guard and DPS to take migrants who unlawfully cross into Texas in between ports of entry to the ports on the border. Talk to us about the goal of that order. And while it has only been a few days, have you received reports yet on how it's going?
Sure. Listen, I've talked to the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and every single day they are returning people to the border. And the reason why we're doing this is because of the extraordinary illegal immigration that's taking place, which also is record-breaking. We've had record-breaking month after month after month and year after year. And over the Fourth of July weekend, there were about 5,000 people who were apprehended in just the Del Rio sector alone. And, of course, there was the horrific deaths that we saw in that tractor-trailer truck. But that's just a small percentage of the overall deaths that are occurring on the border region every single day. In fact, the United Nations said that the border region between … the U.S. and Mexico is the deadliest border region in the world. And we have terrorists coming across the border and deadly fentanyl coming across the border. So there is a need for us as a state to try to step up and do what Washington, D.C., is not doing, and that is to return these illegal immigrants to the border in a way to try to cut down on the level of illegal immigration that's taking place.
Governor, you mentioned the tragedy in San Antonio last month, and we've heard from experts to say this isn't an isolated incident. This is happening more than we realize. What more can be done to prevent not only these people from getting into these drugs and getting into Texas, but tragedies like what we saw, what can be done to keep that from happening?
So one easy thing that could be done, if the federal government were to do it, is to fully fund Border Patrol. Their Border Patrol is about more than 2,000 officers or agents short of what they need to be. If they had more agents, they could inspect more trucks and they could interdict people before they get into trucks like that before it happens, because the Biden administration is not providing that funding for those Border Patrol agents. I have ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety for them to increase inspections of trucks so that we can try to discover any migrants, any trucks like this before they to lose their lives.
So the shortages began in January of 2021?
So, if you would, the remarkable spike in the increase of the number of people coming across the border begin around January 2021, has done nothing but go up since then, setting all-time record highs consistently, which has put more strain on the Border Patrol agents, as well as on Texas law enforcement, as well as these communities on the border. Think, y'all may have no idea what these towns and counties are dealing with on the border. Some towns and counties have more people coming into their county than have traditionally lived in their county, and they had no way of dealing with it.
So the shortages, though, the actual officers, those shortages began in January of '21?
So what what the Biden Administration has done, they have reduced the force, the number of members in the Border Patrol agent force. But in addition to that, they have basically disbanded the role that ICE has played in all of this and have reduced their numbers also.
As you know, the Texas House committee investigating the elementary school shooting met today. There are calls to release a hallway video, a request DPS seemingly supports. They said that they support that, but the Uvalde County DA is asking to hold off on that as the state's former attorney general. What's your take on how to balance those calls for transparency with ongoing investigations?
Ashley, at this time, that video needs to be released, as well as the audio. So there's both audio and video of exactly what happened in that school and everything that does not contain the images of those who lost their lives, and the victims, should be released to the public. As you know, reporters have seen it, the stories have been written about it. There is no law enforcement reason that I can see why that video should not be released. And I'm urging that that video be released to the public. The Texans need to know. But, frankly, the people of Uvalde, they deserve to get to know exactly what happened. And I urge that it happen very quickly.
Well, governor, would you consider pushing it more, maybe you even releasing it yourself?
Well, here's what I don't know as we speak right now, and that is whether or not the district attorney has a court order prohibiting the release of it. Absent something like that, I will be pushing for the release of it.
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