Amid rising tensions at the Texas-Mexico border, three of Gov. Abbott’s primary challengers sat down with Texas Scorecard as part of our Uncut Conversations series to discuss their plans for strengthening border security.

Former State Sen. Don Huffines committed to building a physical barrier along the border and explained how his previous experience as a legislator would benefit his strategy.

“I’ve got a clear plan to secure the border. … I’m going to finish Trump’s wall, and I’m going to build it for hundreds of miles,” said Huffines. “I’ve been at the border three times in the last 90 days or so, and I was on the committee in Austin in the Senate for border security, so I’m … quite familiar with the situation. This is a disaster, as you know; this is a true invasion.”

Additionally, Huffines explained that his strategy to decrease illegal border crossings would rely on state resources instead of federal resources.

“The key to my plan is I will never ask permission from the federal government to secure the Texas border,” said Huffines. “It’s not going to happen. This is our border. … I’m going to engage the entire Texas military, over 20,000, and we’re going to secure the river. We’re going to immediately return all illegals to the Mexico side of the river when they get on our side.”

Lt. Colonel Allen West also expressed his belief that strengthening border security would require more than just a physical barrier.

“I sat down with some former Army officers who were military planners, and we did a mission analysis,” said West. “You’ve got to have the boots on the ground to provide that deterrent force along with integrated systems like ground sensors and aerial surveillance systems.”

West also criticized Gov. Abbott’s failed Operation Lone Star, in which Texas National Guard troops were deployed to the border in an effort to decrease illegal crossings, drug smuggling, and human trafficking.

“It falls way short,” said West. “I’ve been down there day and night on the border, and I see the National Guard of Texas just standing there and observing. In some cases, we’ve seen the National Guard helping people out of the rafts coming across into the state of Texas. That’s not guarding our border. So they don’t have the right mission, they don’t have the right rules of engagement.”

Media personality Chad Prather expressed his own disappointment with current policies surrounding the border and explained how the state could take more initiative.

“We have got to enable the citizens of Texas to protect their lands, protect their borders, protect their properties,” said Prather. “We’re in Texas and we’re not going to put up with invasion. This is a constitutional right that the governor has that in the case of an invasion when the federal government doesn’t defend the state, we have a right to defend our own.”

Prather also emphasized the need for a clear and comprehensive strategy focused on increasing security at Texas’ southern border.

“We’ve got to stand on that river both as law enforcement, both as a sovereign state, and as an empowered people and say, ’No, you’re not coming across.’ … We’ve got to detect, we’ve got to deter, we’ve got to detain, we’ve got to deport,” said Prather. “And at all costs, we’ve got to defend.”

All of the conversations with the gubernatorial candidates can be viewed here.

Katy Drollinger

Katy is eager to use her skills in writing and research to accurately report on issues for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.

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