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The White House on Thursday slammed Texas Gov. Greg Abbott over his announced plan to bus illegal immigrants caught while entering the United States to Washington, DC, calling it a “publicity stunt.”
Press secretary Jen Psaki was asked during her daily briefing about what preparations the administration has made to find migrants places to stay after Abbott announced the initiative in response to the planned removal of the Title 42 public health authority next month.
“I’m not aware of what authority the governor would be doing that under. I think it’s pretty clear this is a publicity stunt,” Psaki said in response to the question from Fox News Peter Doocy.
“His own office admits that a migrant would need to voluntarily be transported, and then he can’tcompel them to because, again, enforcement of our country’s immigration laws lies with the federal government and not a state,” she continued.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instituted the health order in March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US.
It has allowed border officials to expel nearly 2 million migrants attempting to enter the US without hearing asylum claims.
But Doocy pointed out that Republican lawmakers estimate that as many as 18,000 migrants a day may arrive at the border — up from the current estimate of 8,000 a day — once the order is rescinded.
On Wednesday, Abbott announced he was ordering the Texas Department of Public Safety to begin stopping and inspecting commercial vehicles to look for illegal immigrants who may be smuggled across the southern border.
Once rounded up, the governor vowed, they would be put on charter buses and sent to Washington.
“President Biden refuses to come to the southern border to see the chaos he has created. So, we’re taking the border to him,” Abbott said on Twitter Thursday, linking to an interview he gave to Fox News.
“Texas will be transporting illegal immigrants to the US Capitol,” he added.
Abbott claimed he had to act because the Biden administration’s policies will allow thousands of migrants to cross the border in a surge that will overwhelm local communities throughout the Lone Star State.
“We are sending them to the United States capital, where the Biden administration will be able to more immediately address the needs of the people that they are allowing to come across our border,” Abbott said.