After hinting at an upcoming announcement last week amid the growing border crisis, Gov. Greg Abbott officially announced a plan for the state of Texas to build its own southern border wall.
“The problems that people are experiencing on the border just continue to get worse,” said Abbott, flanked by Lt. Gov Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan, and a group of Republican lawmakers from both chambers.
“Make no mistake, the border crisis we are experiencing right now are a direct result of the open border policies implemented by President Biden,” he added.
Abbott said that state agencies were in contact with private landowners on certain parts of the Texas-Mexico border to install fencing on their private land to curb the movement of illegal immigrants but that “more needed to be done.”
“Today we are announcing that Texas will build a border wall in our state to secure our border,” said Abbott.
To that end, Abbott signed a letter directing the Texas Facilities Commission to hire a program manager in charge of the project. He signed another order, under a disaster declaration issued on the border earlier this month, directing $250 million of state funds towards a “down payment” to begin construction.
He also solicited citizens to make private donations to the effort as well.
Additionally, Abbott signed a letter to President Joe Biden asking for the federal government to return land along the border it had previously seized in order for Texas to continue construction of the wall.
Both Patrick and Phelan praised the move, with Patrick saying the order could be one of the “most important documents in the history of Texas.” Phelan announced he would task certain House committees with interim charges related to border security in the near future.
Legislation filed earlier this year by State Rep. Bryan Slaton (R–Royse City) to build a Texas border wall (and name it after President Donald Trump) was not even given a committee hearing in the Texas House.
Despite not making it a priority during the legislative session, Abbott says that increasing numbers of illegal immigration necessitated the approach now.
However Slaton, who was present at the press conference, says he has a problem with the governor’s unilateral approach.
”I’m happy the governor is acting, but I have questions,” Slaton told Texas Scorecard. “If he could have done this unilaterally, why didn’t he do it years ago?”
“I think the legislature should be the ones making these decisions,” he added.
Chad Prather, a humorist and media personality who has announced a 2022 Republican primary challenge to Abbott, told Texas Scorecard that he has called on Abbott to do exactly this for months.
“While border security and immigration is ultimately a Federal responsibility, we have seen tremendous failure from DC since February after President Biden took office which has resulted in an influx of illegal immigration into the US, a humanitarian crisis, human trafficking, and drug smuggling at the Texas border. In the obvious absence of Federal responsibility, Texas must step up to protect our 1254 mile border along Mexico,” said Prather.
“Finally after more than 6 months of Federal incompetence, Gov. Abbott is finally taking action to protect our border and stop illegal immigration into our Great State. We must also push the Federal Government to allow our fine Border Patrol and ICE Agents to do their jobs,” he added. “This issue is seeping in to America and every citizen needs to be aware of what is going on. This is a National crisis. As Texans, we are on the frontlines and must put a stop to it.”
Gubernatorial candidate and former State Sen. Don Huffines, who has centered much of his own campaign around stopping illegal immigration, said last week “I would like to thank ‘all talk, no action’ Greg Abbott for joining my campaign by admitting that as governor he’s had the power for the last seven years to close down the Texas border, and has refused to do so,” crediting Abbott’s shift in tone to his own campaign’s momentum.
“As governor, I will finish Trump’s wall and actually close down the border. I will also end taxpayer subsidies to illegal aliens that Greg Abbott is funding in his current budget,” he added.