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Gov. Abbott criticizes Biden administration, TikTok in San Antonio roundtable

The governor met with local and regional law enforcement officials on Thursday.

TEXAS, USA — Wrapping up a San Antonio visit, Gov. Greg Abbott said increased funding for public safety, accountability measures for district attorneys and more mental health resources are among the needs he heard from local law enforcement officials in order to better safeguard south Texas communities. 

At the same time, Abbott – who in March of 2021 launched Operation Lone Star in an attempt to better secure the southern border – urged the video-sharing online platform TikTok to do a better job of policing its channels. 

“We’re finding here in San Antonio, Texas, a proliferation of cartels advertising on TikTok recruiting teenagers to assist the cartels in their crimes, whether it be smuggling people, smuggling drugs or other crimes,” the governor said, echoing concerns shared by Texas Department of Safety Director Steven McCraw.  

The Thursday roundtable was driven by conversation about the situation at the border, and held in the aftermath of Abbott meeting with governors of several northern-Mexico states last week, whom he said have agreed to stepping up security efforts on their side of the border in exchange for Texas halting its short-lived, controversial practice of expanded commercial truck searches. 

“What they’ve agreed to is heightened security measures on their side of the border that will reduce illegal immigration into Texas,” Abbott said. 

The governor also put President Joe Biden on blast, repeating a familiar refrain that the federal government isn’t doing enough to assist in border enforcement. 

“The Biden administration needs to step up and start enforcing the laws passed by Congress, period.”

The governor said a total of 10 buses have transported migrants from the border to Washington, D.C., in an attempt to, as Abbott put it, "take the border to Biden."

"He will see, by these daily flows of buses, what Texans are dealing with. And he and the members of Congress are gonna have to deal with it directly."

That struggle isn't lost on Democratic lawmaker Henry Cuellar, of Laredo, who's been working on immigration reform for years. 

"We have to find a way that we can work together – the state and the federal government and the local entities – to address this particular issue," Cuellar said.

While it may not look like it with a growing number of migrants cross the border, U.S. State Department officials say they are making progress on addressing the root causes of migration. 

"The numbers at the border are not the full metric of what is happening in the region," said Marta Costanzo Youth, principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. "The fact of the matter is, some of these policies are already working."

While the issue awaits the intervention of Congress, Abbott continues taking a stab at it himself. 

"Texas is now building our own border wall," he said. "All that is in response to the open-border policies that we have right now." 

Local officials on hand at Thursday's roundtable also pointed out that boosted law enforcement ranks will remain a priority as long as San Antonio continues to grow. According to data from the most recent U.S. census, Bexar County’s population grew by about 295,000 residents between 2010 and 2020, amounting to a 17% increase. 

“The bottom line is this: Texans deserve safe communities,” Abbott said. “Safe communities is a Texas value. Safe communities need law enforcement officers to help keep those communities safe.”

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