A senior Homeland Security official chided Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for busing illegal immigrants to Washington, saying Thursday that the Republican governor was hurting the government’s efforts to coordinate how the migrants are released.
“Governor Abbott is taking actions to move migrants without adequately coordinating with the federal government and local border communities,” said Chris Magnus, head of Customs and Border Protection.
His message conflicted with that of the White House, which on Wednesday had ironically praised Mr. Abbott’s migrant-shipping initiative, saying the governor was giving a free ride to people who were already headed to Washington anyway.
“So it’s nice the state of Texas is helping them get to their final destination as they await the outcomes of their immigration proceedings,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Mr. Magnus on Thursday suggested Texas was interfering with those immigration proceedings by moving the migrants around to places the government may not be able to track.
“As individuals await the outcome of their immigration proceedings, they are legally obligated to report in for the next steps in their immigration process and permitted to travel elsewhere,” Mr. Magus said. “CBP’s close partnerships with other government and non-governmental stakeholders are essential to this effort, and to ensuring fairness, order and humanity in the process.”
Texas has so far sent two busloads of illegal immigrants to Washington.
The migrants were caught at the border, processed then released into Texas by the administration. Critics say that “catch-and-release” practice is fueling the chaos and crush of illegal border-crossers under President Biden.
The current record pace of illegal immigrant apprehensions is expected to grow now that Mr. Biden has decided to end the Title 42 pandemic border shutdown, which had allowed many illegal border crossers to be returned to Mexico or their home countries because of fears of COVID-19 infections.
Without Title 42, which will end in late May, hundreds of thousands more migrants will be caught and released into the U.S. over the next months.
With Texas poised to take the brunt of the new surge, Mr. Abbott announced plans to transport some of the migrants released in his state straight to the nation’s capital to dramatize the burden on his state. One busload was dropped outside the Capitol on Wednesday and a second group was driven to a spot near the White House on Thursday.
The governor said he’s only trying to share the burden.
The migrants in question have all been processed by CBP and either released on the spot or turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which does its own processing and releasing.
Mr. Magnus’s complaints about complicating efforts to track illegal immigrants come as the Biden administration itself has lost track of tens of thousands of migrants CBP released last year without issuing official court summonses. ICE has now been tasked with scouring communities to track down those who fled.