Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott is cracking down on illegal immigration, creating a new position of Texas border czar to stem the overwhelming flood of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.
"To continue doing what no other state in the history of our country has done to secure the border, I hired Mike Banks as the state of Texas' first-ever border czar," Abbott said during a Monday press conference at a border wall construction site in San Benito.
Banks is a retired Border Patrol agent who will report directly to Abbott, according to the New York Post.
"For me, the No. 1 priority is to make the state of Texas the least desirable place for illegal immigration to cross," Banks said when asked about his role.
There were a record 2.4 million encounters with migrants attempting to cross into the United States in the last fiscal year, according to data from U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Banks' appointment comes as the Border Patrol announced the agency's focus remains on the besieged city of El Paso, which has become the most active border crossing in the nation.
Border Patrol agents encountered 162,603 migrants in the last three months at the spot, which is more than three times the 49,000 people they encountered in the same period one year ago, according to newly released figures.
The majority of those trying to come across the border at El Paso were from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, and Colombia, with 64% of them being single adults, according to the Post. Families with children accounted for 49,508 and 8,059 were unaccompanied minors traveling alone.
Law enforcement agencies have been scrambling to procure items such as baby formula and diapers for families arriving in west Texas seeking asylum; migrants have historically been single adults.
"The first quarter of fiscal year 2023 demonstrated the complexity of the southwest border, with the recent migrant influx, and the challenges that our agents and migrants face during these times" El Paso sector acting Chief Patrol Agent Peter Jaquez told the Post.
Banks will be responsible for handling migrant surges, like the one in El Paso in December that caused the city to declare an emergency.
Texas state troopers as well as 400 Texas National Guard troops were called up then to assist overwhelmed Border Patrol agents.
The new border czar will also be charged with persuading private land owners to allow the state to access their property to construct additional miles of border wall.
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