Each month brings a dangerous new record of illegal immigration to our southern border. While much of the blame lies with President Joe Biden, an appreciable amount of it also lies with the waffling and ineffective policies of Texas Governor Greg Abbott. Under Abbott, state law enforcement routinely rounds up illegal aliens—only to release them onto Texas soil. The governor’s actions are mainly for show, and his failure to take strong and effective action has created a disaster being faced by ordinary Texans.

This year, the U.S. is on track to absorb more than 2 million illegal aliens, most of whom will disappear into the interior and never be deported. That figure exceeds the populations of large cities like Dallas and San Antonio. And that’s just in 2021; if current trends continue, even more illegal crossings will occur in 2022. There is only one man in the United States with the power to stop the Biden administration’s open border policies: the Texas governor. Texas contains more than 60 percent of the border with Mexico. That number alone should point you toward the vital necessity of the role the governor plays in American homeland security.

After months of inaction as illegal aliens continued to flood the border in record numbers, Abbott declared plans this summer for state law enforcement to “arrest and to jail people who are coming across the border illegally and trespassing.” His announcement was met with excitement and fanfare in right-of-center media, where Abbott was portrayed as a DeSantis-like conservative hero who would singlehandedly save Texas. In reality, however, Abbott has constructed a plan that is actively making the border crisis worse.

Abbott’s scheme to arrest illegal aliens for trespassing has triggered Texas’ own version of “catch and release.” Following the arrest of thousands of illegal aliens by state law enforcement, Texas has begun releasing waves of migrants held for trespassing.

Here’s how it works: As illegal aliens cross the Rio Grande River, state officials in boats point them to private land on the Texas side. Once the migrants step foot on land, they are arrested by state police and jailed for trespassing, a misdemeanor charge. But in many cases, after a short stay behind bars, the trespassing charges are dropped. That’s because Abbott’s entire plan is at the mercy of county and district attorneys—many of whom are Democrats and have no interest in pursuing the trespassing cases. As the Texas Department of Public Safety admitted in a statement, “Ultimately, it is up to the discretion of the county and district attorneys whether or not to dismiss a particular case.”

Court documents show that over two days of virtual court hearings, Val Verde County Attorney David Martinez, a Democrat, dropped more than half of the cases involving migrant arrests “in the interest of justice.” Val Verde County contains Del Rio and spans much of the Texas-Mexico border, where a significant portion of the trespassing arrests is taking place.

After the charges are dropped, the illegal aliens are brought to gas stations or bus stops. Sometimes, hundreds of men are released at once. Last month, a state district judge ordered the immediate release of nearly 250 illegal aliens arrested for trespassing. The men were let out of custody on no-cost bonds.

Abbott’s “catch and jail” plan lets him brag that he’s “doing something” to address the border crisis, but in fact makes it less likely that the illegal aliens will ever be deported after they are released by the state. ICE typically opts not to take custody of illegal aliens whose trespassing cases were dismissed because they have no criminal conviction. Meanwhile, officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection—the agency tasked with processing migrants apprehended by federal agents at the border—will not take the illegal aliens either, since they have already been in the state of Texas for several weeks (or months) after being arrested for trespassing.

Instead of being deported, waves of illegal immigrants who are released under Abbott’s orders get on buses and head to communities in cities like Houston, Dallas, Chicago, L.A., and New York.

Put simply, Abbott’s tough stance on illegal immigration act is just that—an act with no teeth behind it.

As a massive new “mother of all migrant caravans” approaches the border, Texans have a decision to make. We can stick with the status quo and lose our state—and indeed our country—or we can take a new path with decisive action that will swiftly end the invasion at our southern border. I am running for governor of Texas because Greg Abbott has the power to end the border crisis—but he doesn’t have the will or courage to do it. There is no time to waste. The principle of enforcing existing law is enough reason to demand a secure border. However, in many areas, Texas is also suffering from overcrowded hospitals and schools, increased crime, and an inflow of illegal drugs due to exorbitant numbers of illegal crossings.

The migrants heading for Texas are proudly saying that Joe Biden sent for them. Without resolute leadership, how long until they say the same about Greg Abbott?

This is a commentary published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to submission@texasscorecard.com.

Don Huffines

Don Huffines is a conservative businessman and former state senator. He leads the Huffines Liberty Foundation with his wife, Mary Catherine.