(The Center Square) – South of an El Paso port of entry in the West Bridge downtown area and along the Rio Grande River stretching to New Mexico, Texas Department of Public Safety officers and Texas National Guard officers working through Gov. Greg Abbott’s border security mission, Operation Lone Star, have effectively blocked illegal entry, Texas authorities say.
The Texas National Guard erected several miles of concertina wire to fill a gap where construction in the border wall existed. When President Joe Biden came into office, he immediately halted construction of the border wall and a gap was left in the area.
People from all over the world who didn’t want to legally enter through a port of entry roughly a mile down a Juárez, Mexico, highway would walk across the highway down a ditch, across a shallow Rio Grande River that resembles more of a stream, and into Texas, authorities say.
A partial steel wall and the river were the only barrier between Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, and El Paso, Texas, until the Texas National Guard stepped in.
Just after midnight Thursday, when the public health authority Title 42 ended, Texas Department of Public Safety will have a show of force in this area, the DPS commander of the western region of Texas, Juan Sanchez, told The Center Square at a briefing with a border security coalition arranged by The Texas Public Policy Foundation.
The coaliton visited the area where in December a group of 300 people staying in a camp of several thousand on the other side of the river tried to rush across and illegally enter but were held back by Border Patrol agents. The camp is now closed.
Since then, no one can rush across the river in this area because Operation Lone Star has been so effective, Sanchez said. Foreign nationals either have to enter at the port of entry or go through New Mexico. But because New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has told New Mexico state police to stand down and not pursue or apprehend any foreign nationals illegally entering, and because no New Mexico National Guard is there, New Mexico is wide open for illegal entry, Texas authorities say.
However, the area is so remote and there’s no infrastructure and the next biggest city, Las Cruces, is roughly an hour away.
“They’re just coming back into El Paso,” Sanchez said. When they do, DPS is actively working to apprehend them.
Cartel traffickers put illegal foreign nationals in El Paso hotels, Airbnb rentals and then trash them, Sanchez said.
“It’s been a toll on local businesses, the community and everybody else,” he said.
Texas DPS special agents working with Border Patrol are actively identifying stash houses, he said, and “we’ve been very successful.” Previously, stash houses held groups of 20-30 people. Now they’re holding groups of 50, 100, 150, he said.
Sanchez, who’s worked in this area for years, also said the kind of people who are illegally entering are unlike those in the past.
“This new group, they are very entitled,” he said. “They’ve been giving us a lot of resistance. They don’t have respect for law enforcement. They don’t have respect for the citizens here.”
Immigrants who come to the U.S. legally who want to be U.S. citizens “were real quick to say ‘I can’t wait to come into the United States. I can’t wait to carry the American flag,’” he said. But the people illegally entering today, “they still represent their home country’s flag. They’re here; they’re entitled. They expect certain things,” he said, referring to taxpayer-funded welfare and other subsidies.
“They laugh at just about everything we do,” he added. “Our citizens will say, ‘can you please get off my sidewalk, you’re blocking my door.’ And they laugh at them.”
“The problem we had downtown with all the migrants and homeless population increasing,” he said, is transnational gang members took over the streets. If homeless illegal foreign nationals wanted “to get in the chow line at the front,” where free food was being offered, he said, they had to pay the gangs.
By contrast, the Biden administration is actively working to release foreign nationals into the U.S., Texas authorities say. At a Border Patrol conference in El Paso on Wednesday, DHS Chief Information Officer Eric Hysen said the “extremely challenging operational environment will only increase after tomorrow night,” referring to when Title 42 ended Thursday.
One of the agency’s primary goals is to facilitate an efficient processing system to release an expected influx of foreign nationals into the U.S. To do this, over 2,400 DHS employee volunteers, 1,500 Department of Defense personnel, 1,000 employees from 11 federal agencies and 2,000 contractors are working to “scale up processing efforts,” he said.
Abbott, who deployed a tactical National Guard unit to El Paso on Monday, said, “The cartels are working in collaboration with President Biden and the federal government to facilitate that illegals cross the border.”
He said Texas is “being overrun by our own federal government. Texas is being undermined by our own federal government and our efforts to secure our border.”