DEL RIO, Texas — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis visited Del Rio, Texas, for a GOP-led border security briefing with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Saturday.
The governors were joined by both state and local officials, as well as law enforcement. The briefing began around 2:15 p.m. Saturday at the Del Rio International Airport.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, Adjutant General of Texas Tracy Norris, National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) President Brandon Judd and Val Verde County Sheriff Joe Frank Martinez were slated to attend.
Abbott put out a challenge to leaders of others states to "step up" in securing the border, claiming that, in the current fiscal year alone, Texas has set a new all-time record of apprehensions.
While U.S. Customs and Border Protection doesn't have an immediately available online database that goes back more than a few years, CBP does indicate that in FY2021 (which ends in September) there have been nearly 1.08 million Border Patrol "encounters" so far, compared to 405,000 in all of FY2020 and about 860,000 in FY2019. However, it should be noted it wasn't until last year that "encounters" included statistics for arrests as well as deportation.
"With each passing day, that record is going to do nothing but increase," Abbott said, repeating a refrain he's vocalized in recent months as he embarks on his initiative to construct a border barrier.
Abbott lay the blame on the Joe Biden administration and it's "open-border policies," which the governor claimed was leading to the "incredible influx" of people coming across the border. He made it clear he wants to arrest and jail those who illegally cross the border.
DeSantis said many people who are illegally crossing the border have said their destination was Florida. Abbott also mentioned a "reality" that he believes people need to come to grips with -- "almost everyone who comes across the border is going to have a price extracted from them." He alleged the federal government was blind to how some children "even lose their lives."
Abbott also said, "One thing that everybody in Texas understands...if we are going to be able as a state to respond even more aggressively, one thing we need is additional funding," mentioning funding for Val Verde County and local counties so they can respond to the "record-breaking challenge."
Abbott closed the press conference comparing the situation to a trauma; "Stabilize the trauma and you worry about the bills later."
The briefing comes after Gov. Abbott declared Texas would invoke the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which requested immediate assistance to mitigate what the governor is calling a surge in illegal migrants at the Texas-Mexico border. In response, DeSantis sent Florida law enforcement to Texas to assist in border security efforts.
Former President Donald Trump recently joined Abbott in the Rio Grande Valley for a tour of the unfinished border wall on June 30. In response to that meeting, Democrats called the visit an attempt to deflect from "issues that actually matter," offering the state's energy grid, housing demands and gun safety as examples.
U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, a Democrat representing El Paso, criticized the visit Friday night, tweeting that it amounts to "xenophobic theatrics."