Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas applauded border enforcement for a miles-long 'steel barrier' of vehicles deterring Haitian migrants in Del Rio

Greg Abbott border
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  • Gov. Greg Abbott lauded Texas state troopers for a "steel barrier" of vehicles at the border.

  • He said Texas wanted anyone thinking of crossing the border illegally to know they might be jailed.

  • Thousands of people seeking to enter the US are camped under a bridge near Del Rio, Texas.

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Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday praised border officials and state troopers for erecting a "steel barrier" of police vehicles stretching miles along the southern US border to deter Haitian migrants from crossing into Texas.

"One day there were countless people coming across the border, then that very same day the Texas Department of Public Safety put up all these DPS vehicles, and suddenly, in an instant, people stopped crossing the border in this location," he said at a news conference.

Abbott added that the state was taking "unprecedented steps" to control the border and was sending a message to anyone trying to cross the Rio Grande that they "may wind up having handcuffs on their hands going straight to jail."

Thousands of Haitians are camped under a bridge near Del Rio - a Texas border town of about 35,000 on the about 150 miles west of San Antonio. They have fled Haiti after President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July and a 7.2 magnitude earthquake rocked the country in August. Reports differ on exactly how many people are now gathered at the Texas border, but estimates place the number at about 8,000 after some were sent back or processed by immigration authorities.

Footage of border agents on horseback confronting migrants has sparked criticism from the White House and politicians, and prompted the Department of Homeland Security to launch an investigation. Some are decrying the situation as inhumane and cruel.

As Abbott spoke with reporters on Tuesday, he said President Joe Biden was not doing enough to secure the southern border and said the president's policies prompted the flood of people to seek illegal entry in Del Rio, per CNN.

"When you have an administration that is not enforcing the law in this country, when you have an administration that has abandoned any pretense of securing the border and securing our sovereignty, you see the onrush of people like what we saw walking across this dam that is right behind me," he told the network.

It's unclear why so many migrants have amassed at Del Rio so quickly, but misinformation that the border would be easier to cross there may have played a part, The New York Times reported.

"False information, misinformation, and misunderstanding might have created a false sense of hope," Guerline Jozef, the executive director of the Haitian Bridge Alliance, a group that works with migrants, told The Times.

The Biden administration had been denying entry at the border under Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy that allows migrants to be deported as a measure to keep COVID-19 from spreading. Last week, however, a judge ruled that Title 42 was "likely unlawful" and issued a preliminary injunction against it. The Biden administration has said it's appealing the decision.

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