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Gov. Abbott cites immigration policy changes as reason for surge in border crossings

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During his visit to the Rio Grande Valley on Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott said changes made to immigration policies are causing an increase in illegal migrant crossings, drug smuggling and cartel activity on the border. 

"This crisis is a result of President Biden's open-door policies," Abbott said during a press conference. "It invites illegal immigration and is creating a humanitarian crisis in Texas right now that will grow increasingly worse by the day."

According to Abbott, this year, U.S. Border Patrol has detained more than 800 undocumented criminals-- 78 of those were sex offenders and more than 60 were gang members.

Under President Biden's catch and release immigration policy, Border Patrol agents are required to detain and release undocumented migrants into the U.S. after crossing illegally. 

President for the Border Patrol Council Brandon Judd said the current policy is "allowing cartels to enrich themselves."

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) said the federal government should take action. 

"If we don't send the message, that if you don't come here orderly and in a correct way, we're going to deport you like Jeh Johnson under Obama," Cuellar said. "If we don't do that, these numbers are going to continue to happen."

At the press conference, Abbott also said the federal funding used for testing migrants for COVID-19 should go to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program.

The governor said ICE agents are the ones administering the tests while the people who are here illegally are in holding.

While the leaders who attended the conference are calling on Biden to address the situation, they are also asking for COVID-19 vaccines for Border Patrol agents. 

READ ALSO: Gov. Greg Abbott to visit Rio Grande Valley

"We have Border Patrol officers whose lives are on the line on a daily basis, an hourly basis," Abbott said. "The Biden administration will not step up and provide those Border Patrol officers with vaccinations they need."

Abbott says until the federal government steps in to address the crisis, his administration's Operation Lone Star program will provide a surge of resources to the border. That includes more law enforcement and tools in assistance to Border Patrol agents. 

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