(The Center Square) – The governors of 11 Republican-led states met in the Texas border community of Mission Wednesday to demand President Joe Biden take immediate steps to resolve the border crisis.
"President Joe Biden has caused a humanitarian crisis and chaos on our border," Abbott said, with 10 other U.S. governors standing behind him.
Along with a significant increase in illegal immigration since Biden took office, Abbott and other governors said border communities are seeing an increase in drug and human trafficking as well as other crimes as a result of Biden's open border policies.
"This is a humanitarian crisis," Abbott said.
The Texas governor said 26 U.S. governors have agreed to a 10-point plan being delivered to the president to help alleviate the crisis. The plan includes the reinstatement of the "Remain in Mexico" policy, which requires immigrants to return to their home countries until amnesty hearings are concluded in the U.S.; and finishing securing the southern border with Mexico, including completion of the border wall that was a priority of former President Donald Trump. A third demand is the reinstatement of Title 42 health restrictions at the border, which require immigrants to be deported if they pose a health risk, including testing positive for COVID-19.
More than 20% of migrants who have been tested at the border have been positive for COVID-19, one governor said.
"While Joe Biden has done absolutely nothing," Abbott said, other states have stepped up to do what should be the federal government's job.
Abbott said the 26 Republican governors asked for a meeting with the president to discuss their concerns, but "he completely ignored us."
Abbott was joined by Govs. Goug Ducey of Arizona, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Brad Little of Idaho, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Greg Gianforte of Montana, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Mike DeWine of Ohio, Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Mark Gordon of Wyoming.
"The situation here is certainly outrageous," Ducey said, noting the more than 15,000 mostly Haitian refugees who congregated under a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, last month. "It's a tragedy, and I can tell you the border situation is just as out of control in the state of Arizona," noting that the Yuma region in his state has seen a more than 1,00% increase illegal border crossings in recent months.
"American lives are at risk," Ducey said.
Many of the governors said they've seen large increases in the distribution of the highly addictive narcotic fentanyl in their states as a result of the increases in illegal immigration.
Overall, more than 1.3 million migrants have been apprehended at the U.S. border with Mexico this year, a number greater than the populations of nine states. Another several hundred thousand have evaded capture in addition to those who surrendered to Border Patrol.
Even as illegal border crossings continue to rise, new guidelines issued by Department of Homeland Security state that entering the U.S. illegally – violating immigration laws established by Congress – is no longer an arrestable offense.
"The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen therefore should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them," DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a memorandum to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials last week. "We will use our discretion and focus our enforcement resources in a more targeted way. Justice and our country’s well-being require it."
Only those who pose a threat to national security, public safety or a threat to border security should be targeted for removal, the new guidelines state.
The governors at Wednesday's news conference also called for Mayorkas' resignation or firing.
Wednesday's news conference was held shortly after an armed student opened fire Timberview High School in Arlington, Texas. Abbott acknowledged the shooting before discussing the border crisis.