MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Gov. Greg Abbott was at the McAllen City Hall for the signing of Senate Bill 576 Wednesday afternoon.

Abbott will be meet with McAllen Mayor Javier Villalobos, Representative JM Lozano, and McAllen city officials.

Senate Bill 576 enhances the criminal penalty for human smuggling when payment is involved, said a release.

Mayor Villalobos began by thanking the Governor for visiting the city hall.

[Photo: Sal Castro]

“There has never been a governor that has visited South Texas as much as Governor Abbott, we’re very happy to have him here,” said Villalobos.

The Governor said he comes to the Valley frequently because he wants the region to succeed.

“One thing that is essential for the future of Texas is to have the Rio Grande Valley, Hidalgo County, and the City of McAllen to be successful. You are the fifth largest metro area in the entire state of Texas. So Texas cares about your future,” said the Governor.

The Governor spoke about Texas’ role in international trade in the United States, noting that the state has led the way for the past 19 years.

The Governor presented Villalobos with a proclamation from the State of Texas and a flag from the Capitol in recognition of Villalobos’s election and vision for the future.

He blamed the “dramatic increase” of immigrants and human smuggling on “open border policies.” Abbott said the goal of SB 576 is to combat human trafficking which is a direct product of human smuggling.

“We as a state are committed to reducing human trafficking. One key way to do that is to crack down on human smuggling,” said Gov. Abbott.

Abbott said that dangerous gang members enter Texas and the United States through means of human smuggling. Those same people are bringing drugs like fentanyl into the United States, according to the governor.

“Whatever it’s form, human smuggling poses a danger to Texas, and it was essential that we do something about it this passed [legislative] session,” said Gov. Abbott.

The law makes it easier to arrest and prosecute humans smugglers.

The entire press conference lasted about ten minutes. The Governor proceeded around the room to speak with the attendants of the press conference.

Tuesday, Abbott paid a visit to Del Rio, Texas to address the migrants still near the international bridge there.

Abbott asked President Joe Biden earlier in the week for an emergency declaration in response to the influx of migrants in Del Rio, where mainly Haitian immigrants have arrived.

Del Rio is about 340 miles from McAllen, Texas.

Catholic Charites of the Rio Grande Valley Executive Director Sister Norma Pimentel said she has seen migrant families from Haiti arriving at migrant camps and shelters in Reynosa.

However, Pimentel said they have not seen many Haitian migrants cross the border in the Rio Grande Valley area.

 “I think for the most part they are being kept in detention, they are processing them, and they are either sending them to other points of entry or sending them back [to] their country,” said Pimentel in an interview with

The press conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and will be streamed LIVE in this article.