A small Texan border town is in the midst of a crime wave, the mayor said on Thursday, after 11,500 migrants flocked to his town in the last 10 days, wading across the Rio Grande from Mexico. Eagle Pass, home to 29,000 permanent residents, is struggling to cope with the sudden influx. A further 4,000 to 9,000 are expected to arrive over the next few days said Rolando Salinas (pictured left), the mayor.
Salinas, who on Tuesday night declared a state of emergency, said they were overwhelmed. ‘There have to be consequences for crossing illegally,’ he told The New York Post.
Salinas, a lifelong resident of his town, said it was unprecedented. ‘I’ve never seen people cross like this. If they’re going to come, they must enter through the port of entry. I know people are desperate, but this is a nation of laws. Our cops are overwhelmed. Our firefighters are responding to calls for care for migrants. We don’t have the resources to handle this. We’ve seen robberies, they’ve broken into homes.’
The mayor was asked by CNN’s Erin Burnett whether he thought President Joe Biden was to blame for the crisis in his town. ‘I’ll be honest with you – I believe 100 percent he does bear some responsibility for this crisis,’ he said. ‘I haven’t heard from anybody in the administration. The president hasn’t put out a statement, the vice president. I haven’t heard from anybody. Nobody has bothered to call me or the city staff and say hey, this is the federal government, we know what you’re going through, we’re worried about you, this is our plan of action. Nothing. We’re here abandoned. We’re on the border. We’re asking for help. This is unacceptable.’
He said the United States was ‘a nation of laws’. Salinas asked that those wanting to come to the country should respect the laws, saying it was unfair on those who did.
On Wednesday night, Biden sent an additional 800 active-duty troops to the border, to work alongside 2,500 members of the National Guard who are already there. A game of cat and mouse was playing out on Thursday along the banks of the Rio Grande.
Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, on Wednesday tweeted that he had sent members of the Texas National Guard to reinstall razor wire along the river bank, after it had been removed. On Thursday, a NewsNation reporter tweeted footage of migrants sitting on the banks of the Rio Grande, unable to scramble up the embankment to the U.S. side. A thick roll of razor wire blocked their passage. ‘We are refusing to let them in and sending them back,’ he wrote on X.
But just down the road, CNN reporter Ed Lavendera was speaking live on air when the migrants decided to take matters into their own hands and scramble under the wires. Some lifted the wire, allowing their fellow migrants to crawl under.
Others behind them threw backpacks and duffel bags across the wire. They were totally unfazed by the presence of a TV crew filming the entering illegally.
A Border Patrol agent soon appeared, and the group prepared to hand themselves in. The reasons for the sudden surge in Eagle Pass are unknown.
Lavendera said that the ending of Title 42 in May stopped the crossings for several months: under the new rules which replaced Title 42, anyone found crossing illegally will be deported and blocked from entering for five years, with criminal prosecution if they are found. But after a lull, the migrants waiting in Mexico to cross grew frustrated, and are now surging over.
On Thursday afternoon, migrants lined up to sign waivers to get a seat on one of the buses charted by Abbott to allow the migrants to travel to New York City. More than 115,000 migrants have arrived in New York City in the past year.
Tom Schmerber, the sheriff of Maverick County, told CNN that the surge in crossings was extremely dangerous. The body of a man believed to be a migrant was found in the waters around Eagle Pass on Thursday morning.
On Wednesday, a three-year-old boy died after being swept away as his family attempted to cross the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass. ‘It’s something very strange. Never thought I was going to see something like that in Eagle Pass,’ said Schmerber, an Eagle Pass native.
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