In a shocking display of defiance, hundreds of migrants were captured on video cheering triumphantly as they crowded onto a cargo train making its way toward the United States' southern border. The footage, posted by Fox News on Sunday, showed a FerroMex train passing through the central Mexican city of Zacatecas on its 750-mile journey northbound. Each cargo carriage was packed with people, who could be seen waving, clapping, and whistling in what appeared to be a moment of victory. Some migrants even hung from the sides of the train, energetically greeting the camera. The video quickly went viral after being shared on social media by Fox News journalist Griff Jenkins, who pointed out that the migrants were clearly disregarding the message from Vice President Kamala Harris: "do not come." This statement was made by Harris in June while addressing Guatemalan migrants, emphasizing that the United States would continue to enforce its laws and secure its borders.
The release of this video comes at a time when the United States is experiencing an unprecedented surge in illegal immigration. Border Patrol officials reported that in August alone, they arrested at least 91,000 migrants who crossed the border as part of family groups. This number surpassed the previous one-month record of 84,486 migrant families arrested in May 2019, during the Trump administration. The influx of migrants has not been limited to family groups, as there has also been a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied minors crossing into the country.
This surge in illegal crossings has overwhelmed Border Patrol agents, who are now facing the difficult decision of releasing migrants onto the streets of El Paso, Texas. El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser expressed his concern for both the community's safety and the well-being of the asylum seekers during a news conference, stating that they don't want migrants sleeping on the streets. However, the city's shelters are already at capacity, and additional hotel rooms provided by federal tax dollars are not always available. Leeser mentioned that the numbers of migrants continue to grow, and preventing street releases has become a daily challenge.
To address the overflow of migrants, Texas Governor Greg Abbott implemented a busing program that transports migrants to so-called "sanctuary cities" such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. The goal of this program is to distribute the burden of the migration crisis among different states. Abbott recently announced that over 35,000 migrants have been bused to these cities, including more than 13,000 to New York City alone. These figures represent an increase of over 12,000 since the state last updated its count of migrants transported out of state under Operation Lone Star, a border security and burden-sharing effort launched by the governor in 2021.
The situation is not limited to Texas, as Arizona has also become a significant hotspot for illegal border crossings. Border Patrol sources confirmed that the Tucson sector recorded 9,100 encounters with migrants in a single day last week, coming close to the record-setting figures of 10,000 encounters per day seen across the entire border in May. Over 7,400 migrants crossed illegally and surrendered themselves to Border Patrol agents, overwhelming available resources. Migrants have been released onto the streets in Nogales and Casa Grande, with Border Patrol sources sharing photos of migrants from around the world loitering in public spaces. These sources have also indicated that the massive influx of migrants to Arizona is being orchestrated by cartels.
The Biden administration is grappling with this challenging situation and considering various measures to address the flow of illegal immigrants at the southern border. One proposed plan involves forcing migrants who cross into the United States to remain in Texas while they await their asylum screening. This plan, if implemented, would also include the use of ankle bracelets to track their locations. However, the administration has faced opposition, suing Texas to remove a barrier the state installed in the Rio Grande to deter illegal migration. The administration has also sued Arizona for constructing a barrier out of shipping containers on its border with Mexico. Officials have been discussing partnerships with local groups to provide housing for the migrants while their cases are being processed.
Since May, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has removed or returned over 200,000 people. The agency continues to engage in policy and operational discussions to ensure a fair, humane, and effective immigration process. However, the surge in illegal immigration and the strain it places on border towns have prompted Texas to take action. Through its busing program, the state aims to alleviate the burden on cities directly impacted by the influx of migrants and distribute this responsibility more evenly among other states. Governor Abbott argues that Texas has carried the weight of illegal immigration for too long and that "sanctuary cities" should share in addressing this challenge.
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