Texas is making a $250 million “down payment” on a wall between the Texas-Mexico border, Gov. Greg Abbott said Wednesday, elaborating on last week’s announcement that the state would construct a barrier on its southern border.
“The Biden administration has abandoned its responsibility to apply federal law to secure the border and enforce the immigration laws, and Texans are suffering as a consequence of that neglect by the Biden administration,” Abbott said at a news conference announcing the plan. “In the federal government’s absence, Texas is stepping up to get the job done.”
Abbott was joined by more than two dozen Republican state lawmakers, including Sen. Jane Nelson, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee. Abbott said the funds will be used to hire a program manager and contractors to help start building the wall and that state is committed to adding more resources going forward.
Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Rep. Greg Bonnen and Nelson signed a letter allocating the $250 million in emergency funding for the wall. The money is in addition to more than $1 billion in the state budget recently passed by the Texas Legislature for purposes related to border security, according to Abbott’s office.
“We have to restore order and security,” Nelson said, of Flower Mounday, said in a statement. “I have seen the effects of an unsecured border firsthand, and this Administration’s policies are not compassionate. They are hurting people on both sides of the border.”
Abbott announced his plans to build a border wall on the Texas-Mexico border last week during a border security summit in Del Rio, but did not elaborate on the plans or how the barrier would be funded.
The wall was among several initiatives Abbott announced as part of a border security plan. Abbott said the Texas Department of Public Safety will work with local officials to “arrest anyone who enters our state illegally and is found trespassing, engaged in vandalism, criminal mischief or smuggling.”
He also announced plans to increase jail capacity, an interstate compact with Arizona and established the the Governor’s Task Force on Border and Homeland Security charged with advising on “strategies to stem the flow of unlawful immigrants and illegal contraband into Texas.”
In addition to the “down payment” for the wall, Abbott said Texans could donate to help fund the wall by visiting a website set up by the state where donations can be made. That process will be overseen by the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the governor’s office, Abbott said.
“We expect full transparency and accountability, so the public will know all the money coming in and how that money is being used,” Abbott said.
The League of United Latin American Citizens National President questioned the legality of the wall in a statement issued after Abbott’s announcement.
“Governor Abbott knows that using Texas taxpayers’ dollars to build a wall and have DPS troopers attempting to arrest children for trespassing is not only a waste of money, it’s also illegal and unconstitutional,” LULAC National President Domingo Garcia said. “Targeting children and families as political piñatas with our money for expensive political publicity stunts is fiscally reckless and morally reprehensible.”
Rodolfo Rosales, Jr., Texas LULAC State Director, also questioned the state’s jurisdiction.
“While taxpaying Texans are suffering from rolling blackouts due to the lack of infrastructure on our electrical grid, this man wants to focus on a border wall where he clearly has no jurisdiction. This is a federal issue,” he said. “We love Texas as much as any other American and we won’t stand quietly by and allow our state’s diverse history and cultural heritage to be squandered because it’s politically expedient for Governor Abbott’s ambitions.”
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