Sep 22, 2023 - World

800 troops head to U.S.-Mexico border in response to migrant crisis

Texas Department of Public Safety highway patrol troopers look over the Rio Grande as migrants walk by a string of buoys placed on the water along the Rio Grande border with Mexico in Eagle Pass, Texas, in July. Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro/AFP via Getty Images

Texas officials have reported a "surge" in migrant crossings into the U.S. from Mexico and two deaths in the Rio Grande this week, including a 3-year-old boy.

The big picture: Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador suggested on Thursday visiting D.C. in November to discuss the humanitarian crisis, as he shared U.S. Customs and Border Protection data showing that American authorities encountered over 142,000 migrants at the border in the first half of September, per Reuters.

  • That puts the U.S. on track to equal or top previous monthly highs, after the Biden administration had seen a decline in border crossings earlier this year.

Of note: Reuters reports that Mexican officials urged against the temporary border crossing closures in response to how the closures were impacting trade, as rail freight and cargo processing was halted this week — including at Eagle Pass, Texas, where an emergency has been declared due to migrant arrival numbers.

Zoom in: Officials in Eagle Pass have reported some 6,000 migrant arrivals in two days in the city of 28,000, AP notes.

  • Eagle Pass Mayor Rolando Salinas Jr. said in a statement that the emergency declaration that's set to last until at least Tuesday enabled the Texas border city to "request financial resources to provide the additional services caused by the influx of the undocumented immigrants."
  • A Texas Department of Public Safety official said troopers in Eagle Pass found a body in the river Thursday morning — one day after the corpse of a boy, who was traveling with his family, was found, per CBS News.
  • The official added that both bodies were found north of a controversial floating border barrier in the Rio Grande that's at the center of a legal dispute between the administrations of President Biden and state Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

Meanwhile in El Paso, where city data shows nearly 5,700 migrants were in Customs and Border Protection custody on Thursday, officials have opened an emergency overflow shelter.

Zoom out: The Department of Homeland Security announced steps to address the increase this week, including the deployment of 800 new active-duty military personnel to join some 2,500 National Guard members already at the border.

  • Abbott said in an online post that the Texas National Guard had "installed miles of razor wire to repel illegal immigrants" and that President Biden had ordered officials to cut the wire, but officials had instead "DOUBLED the amount of razor wire."

What they're saying: Obrador commended Biden for providing legal pathways, such as this week offering thousands of Venezuelan nationals temporary protections to live and work in the U.S. legally, Reuters reports.

  • But he added more needed to be done as he said global plans were lacking when it came to assisting nations in alleviating citizens from poverty — a key reason why many people flee.

Meanwhile, Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesperson for Abbott, said in an emailed statement on Friday that the Biden Administration was undermining Texas' efforts to secure the border "by cutting concertina wire Texas installed to deter and repel" migrants.

  • "President Biden's reckless open border policies encourage migrants to make the dangerous and illegal trek across the border, ultimately taking the lives of over 850 migrants last year," Mahaleris said.
  • "Marine barriers and concertina wire help deter illegal crossings, redirecting migrants to use one of the 29 international bridges on the Texas-Mexico border where they can safely and legally cross. No one drowns on a bridge."
  • Representatives for the Biden administration did not immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment.

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Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Andrew Mahaleris, a spokesperson for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

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