Governor Abbott to county judges: Send me your receipts, we'll bill Biden for border crisis expenses

(Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, Pool)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott is in process of reminding the Biden administration that the responsibility for securing the southern border lies with the federal government. The State of Texas has been picking up the expenses that incur. Now he is asking county judges to tally up their costs and send him the totals. Abbott says he is going to bill the federal government for the costs.

Abbott rightly tells the county judges (not a judicial position, it’s a county’s CEO) that Texans should not be paying for Biden’s border disaster. Several counties have declared states of emergency because they simply do not have the resources to cope with the situation. County and local governments do not have the personnel or funds to take care of the emergencies caused when illegal migrants are dumped into their communities due to a lack of space in shelters. Governor Abbott put Operation Lone Star into place to address border security and safety issues. He deployed air, ground, marine, and tactical border security assets to high threat areas with the mission of combatting human trafficking and drug cartel operations.

In his letter to county judges, Abbott reminded them that he also launched an investigation into reports of abuse in some of the shelters housing unaccompanied minors.

Governor Abbott will ask the Biden administration for full reimbursement to the State of Texas.

“Securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, but the current crisis has placed a costly burden on the State of Texas and on our local governments,” said Governor Abbott. “I have heard from many counties about the challenges they are facing from the surge in illegal border crossings. Several counties have declared local disasters. Other counties have been working around the clock in response to the federal government opening migrant facilities in their counties. I strongly believe that your county, our state, and our fellow Texans should not be forced to shoulder these costs, and that the federal government should reimburse us in full.”

The Democrat county judge of Hidalgo County (McAllen) is going a step further. Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez is calling on Biden to work on comprehensive immigration reform. When Abbott sent his letter to all 254 county judges asking for “a full and accurate estimate of the fiscal impact of the current border crisis on their counties”, Cortez responded that his staff would put the numbers together but the real solution is immigration reform. Cortez is a retired Mayor of McAllen and a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Valuation Analyst (CPA/CVA). He addressed the loss of funds available at the local level due to travel restrictions. Cortez points to local sales taxes and revenue losses because Mexican nationals are not able to cross the border and shop as they normally would.

He says while he certainly would welcome reimbursements to costs spent in the county for transporting, housing, feeding and testing asylum-seekers for COVID-19, he said he believes Congress needs to enact meaningful changes to the country’s entire immigration policy first and set a clear direction forward. He said appropriating pay-back funds, or passing some immigration reforms that only address part of the ongoing problems, will not get to the root of the overall situation.

“We want to make sure that the federal government has a comprehensive immigration plan. We cannot continue to deal in a piecemeal basis and constantly change the policy from time to time, based on the current administration. I believe the United States of America needs a comprehensive immigration plan to determine what our needs are and once determined that is the goal,” Cortez told Border Report on Monday via phone.

“In the meantime, we in the border communities are having to deal with it because the government doesn’t have the system in place to test them for COVID,” Cortez said. “They turn them over to our communities.”

He’s right – until immigration reform is law, border security is not sustainable. The Trump administration, like administrations before his, tried to work with Congress to pass reforms to the current laws but partisan divides are too deep. Democrats demand blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants already here while Republicans stress accountability and the rule of law. Meanwhile, nothing is accomplished. Biden came into office and immediately ended some successful initiatives and agreements that the Trump administration had in place. Biden’s rash and illogical executive actions have produced a completely predictable humanitarian and public health crisis on the southern border. It is entirely reasonable for Governor Abbott, and other border-state governors, to demand financial reimbursement from the federal government.

Cortez, like other Democrats, wants a “fast and efficient way” for illegal immigrants to become legal residents in the United States. That smacks of blanket amnesty and that will not fly with Republicans. Democrats cannot be trusted to uphold their end of any agreements made on illegal immigration, as they proved after the Reagan years when he granted immunity in exchange for immigration law reforms. We know what happened. That mistake can’t happen again.