The move came days after over 50 migrants died from sweltering conditions inside a truck near San Antonio.
Abbott announced the new initiative during a news conference in Eagle Pass. The governor was joined by other state and local officials, including Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Eagle Pass police Chief Federico Garza.
The DPS will “create and implement a checkpoint strategy beginning immediately, where they will begin targeting trucks like the one that was used where these people perished,” Abbott said during the news conference.
The new checkpoints will give Texas “a better capability” to stop smugglers and cartels, he said.
The DPS will also increase officers near the border with 20-person "strike teams" that will “detect and deter unlawful border crossings and apprehend illegal immigrants,” according to a news release. Additional strike teams will be sent to high-traffic border crossings when needed.
The Texas Military Department will set up more razor wire along the Rio Grande, deploy additional boat teams, and add fencing and barriers to state and local border property.
Abbott emphasized Texas can only control immigration on land owned by the state or local governments. This does not include land on the border that is owned by the federal government.
“Texas does not have the authority or the capability to stop illegal immigrants from going to that land,” he said.
The state is also working to gain authorization from as many residents as possible who own land on the U.S.-Mexico border, allowing officials to put up fencing or barriers on their property along the border, Abbott said.
The death toll from the June 27 migrant smuggling incident reached 53 on June 29, according to reporting from the Associated Press. Twenty-seven of the deceased migrants were from Mexico; 14 were from Honduras; seven were from Guatemala; and two were from El Salvador, according to Francisco Garduño, chief of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute.
Abbott said it was the deadliest case of migrant smuggling on U.S. soil to date.
The governor has blamed President Joe Biden and his border policies for the migrants’ deaths. On June 27, he wrote on Twitter that the lives lost in San Antonio “show the deadly consequences of [Biden’s] refusal to enforce the law.”
At Least 42 People Found Dead Inside Truck Carrying Migrants In Texas.
These deaths are on Biden.
They are a result of his deadly open border policies.
They show the deadly consequences of his refusal to enforce the law. https://t.co/8KG3iAwlEk
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 28, 2022
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 30 that the Biden administration can legally end the President Donald Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols. Under the program, some migrants were forced to remain in Mexico while waiting for their asylum hearings.
Biden suspended the program in January 2021, but it was later reinstated after Texas and Missouri sued the Biden administration.
In a June 30 statement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton expressed his disappointment with the Supreme Court’s decision.
“Today’s decision makes the border crisis worse. But it’s not the end,” Paxton said. “I’ll keep pressing forward and focus on securing the border and keeping our communities safe in the dozen other immigration suits I’m litigating in court.”