Texas' Greg Abbott Accuses Joe Biden of Enriching Cartels as 4,200 Border Kids Detained

President Joe Biden's border policies are causing a surge in illegal immigration into the United States and "enriching and empowering" drug cartels in Mexico who profit from smuggling migrants, Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned on Sunday. His comments came as the number of unaccompanied children in border patrol custody rose to 4,200.

The Republican governor said he went to the border last week and met with patrol officers, who he said expressed fears immigration will only increase in the coming months.

"The Border Patrol officers told me that the Biden administration and policies, they are enriching, they are empowering the drug cartels in Mexico who make money off of the people that they assist in smuggling into the state of Texas," Abbott told Fox News.

"The cartels make money off of these migrants that you and your viewers see on TV," he added.

Abbott also said border officers told him that there have been around 110,000 apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley Sector this year, already more than the 90,000 total in the sector from 2020. The governor said that of those 110,000 apprehensions, officers found 800 criminal aliens who have previously been arrested and deported from the U.S., 78 sex offenders and 62 gang members, which include MS-13 gangs. MS-13 or Mara Salvatrucha, is an international criminal gang with origins in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s. The gang, which is mainly made up of Salvadorans, is still active today, and has thousands of members.

As of Sunday morning, the U.S. Border Patrol was found to be holding more than 4,200 unaccompanied migrant children in short-term holding facilities. Some of the children were held in jail-like stations unfit to house minors. Nearly 3,000 of the unaccompanied children in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody had been held for more than 72 hours, according to government documents seen by CBS News. The number of unaccompanied children in CBP custody on Sunday rose 31 percent from early last week, and the number of children held longer than three days more than doubled.

Operation Lone Star

In his interview on Sunday, Abbott said that his office had launched Operation Lone Star, where the National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety officers help police the Texas border with Mexico. He said the operation will crack down on cartels bringing criminals and narcotics across the border, including opioids.

The governor accused the Biden administration of refusing to provide the state data on the number of migrants who arrived at the Southern border who tested positive for COVID-19.

"We expect that data and we expect the Biden administration to step up and assist the state of Texas in being able to respond to that imported challenge, imported only because of the change in policies by the Biden administration," Abbot said.

Since he arrived in office on January 20, President Biden has reversed several Trump-era immigration policies, such as the "Remain in Mexico" policy and the "zero tolerance" policy of separating families at the border.

Another Texas lawmaker on Sunday pushed back on claims that Biden's roll backs were causing an influx of migrants at the Southern border.

"This is not something that happened as a result of Joe Biden becoming president," Rep. Veronica Escobar told CNN. "We saw the increases dating back almost a year, and this was during the Trump administration.

"What we are seeing today is the consequence of four years of dismantling every system in place to address this with humanity and compassion."

Greg Abbott on migrants
Texas Governor Greg Abbott speaks during a press briefing, following a mass fatal shooting, at the El Paso Regional Communications Center in El Paso on August 3, 2019. President Joe Biden's border policies are causing a surge in illegal immigration into the United States and "enriching and empowering" drug cartels in Mexico, Abbott warned on Sunday. JOEL ANGEL JUAREZ/Getty