Nearly 1,000 migrants returned to Texas border

More than 900 undocumented immigrants detained by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard have been returned to the border, officials said Thursday.

DALLAS — More than 900 undocumented immigrants detained by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard have been returned to the border, officials said Thursday.

During a press conference, DPS Director Steve McCraw said at least 903 migrants have been returned to Texas points of entry following a directive by Gov. Greg Abbott issued last week.

The executive order empowered state law enforcement authorities to return migrants to the Texas-Mexico border, but stopped short of expelling migrants back into Mexico. Officers began returning migrants this week, Abbott said.

 

“This helps us immediately because we're not waiting hours for Border Patrol to come get them,” McCraw said. “We're able to move them quickly and … we're able to get back on the road.”

The order received immediate backlash not only from immigration advocates but from legal scholars who questioned the state’s authority to direct state officers to enforce immigration law. Immigration enforcement is a federal responsibility.

Abbott cites the rise in fentanyl entering the state and country as one of the reasons for his push in border security policies.

Fentanyl, the primary subject of the press conference, is an opioid that has proven to be 30 times more potent than heroin and 60 times more potent than morphine.

 

It is commonly found pressed into pills of frequently prescribed pharmaceutical drugs such as oxycodone and Xanax, however it only takes a small amount of fentanyl to become lethal.

DPS Seized Drug System Trainer Jennifer Hatch said her office has seen a rise in fentanyl-laced drug cases, reporting about 94 in 2019. In the first half of 2022, the office has reported 513 cases.

“All of our laboratories across the state of Texas are seeing an increased number of cases that do contain fentanyl,” Hatch said. “While fentanyl isn't present in everything that we analyze, it is much more prominent today than it was even five years ago.”

Hatch added that counterfeit pills are pressed so well that it is difficult for experts to discern legitimate pills, let alone average Americans.

DPS officers across the state of Texas have seized more than 964 pounds of fentanyl in 2021 — almost enough to kill every man, woman and child in the U.S., Abbott said. In 2020, the department seized about 70 pounds, he added.

“A core part of my message today is law enforcement alone is not going to be enough to make sure that we reduce the use and spread of fentanyl,” Abbott said. “One of the most important tools that we have as a state to help us deal with the spread of fentanyl is parents.”

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