Border Patrol agents on Wednesday opened a gate that had previously been locked by members of the Texas National Guard, in order to allow a number of illegal immigrants deeper into the United States.
Fox News witnessed members of the guard close and lock the gate, which is situated on private property and had previously been open, to deny entry to migrants who had crossed illegally and were expecting to be allowed into the U.S.
The illegal immigrants were then seen standing outside the gate waiting to be allowed in, with the Texas National Guard watching on.
A short time later, Border Patrol agents appeared with a key and opened the door, allowing the migrants to get through and be processed into the U.S. immigration system.
The incident demonstrates the stark contrast in approach between Texas authorities and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Under Gov. Greg Abbott, Texas has surged law enforcement to the border under Operation Lone Star. That included a focus on stopping migrants from entering the U.S. with Texas now returning recently-entered illegal immigrants to the border, and its own border wall construction under way.
Border Patrol agents, meanwhile, have been increasingly made to focus on processing migrants into the interior, with migrants frequently not seeking to escape Border Patrol — instead seeking them out so they can be processed and quickly released into the U.S.
While some are returned under the still-ongoing Title 42 public health order, the majority of migrants are instead released into the U.S. for their immigration hearings, which can take years. Of the 199,976 encounters in July, only 74,573 resulted in a Title 42 expulsions.
NEW: For the first time, we witnessed the TX National Guard close & lock a gate on private property at a major crossing area in Eagle Pass, denying entry to migrants who just crossed illegally & expected to be let in. Border Patrol then came w/ a key & let them in for processing. pic.twitter.com/S1fZaTJnEi
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) August 17, 2022
Some agents have expressed their anger at being taken off the line and instead being forced to process those who have entered the country illegally into the U.S.
“I know the policies of this administration are not particularly popular with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but that’s the reality, and let’s see what we can do within that framework,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told frustrated agents in January.
Republicans have taken aim at the Biden administration for restoring “catch-and-release” policies, including in ending the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, which kept migrants in Mexico rather than releasing them into the U.S.
The Biden administration has focused instead on tackling “root causes” of migration like violence, poverty and climate change. It has also pledged to restore legal asylum pathways that it says were abolished during the Trump administration.
Some of the migrants who have successfully entered the U.S. into Texas have been given the chance by Abbott to travel to Washington D.C. and New York City — the mayors of those cities have protested about the numbers being sent their way and have appealed for federal help while criticizing Abbott. Approximately 10,000 migrants are estimated so far to have been sent to both cities.