Governor Abbott: I'll build a southern border wall in Texas

AP Photo/Eric Gay

Texas Governor Greg Abbott hosted a Border Security Summit in Del Rio on Thursday. During the summit, he made a major announcement – Texas will build a southern border wall. Abbott also stated his intention for local law enforcement to arrest single adults crossing into the state illegally.

Abbott’s reasoning for such aggressive action at the southern border is that “Change is needed to fix the border crisis.” The governor has certainly not shown a lack of initiative in trying to secure the Texas border with Mexico. The Biden border crisis has brought Abbott to the point of saying if the Biden administration won’t do it, Texas will. Abbott has been clear from Biden’s first days in office that he will not sit by and not act in the best interests of Texas and the United States. Abbott began Operation Lone Star in March. This increased the personnel available to handle the flood of migrants crossing the border illegally. This month he issued a disaster declaration in response to provide even more resources to the border. The last major initiative was issued several days ago which aims to protect landowners and residents along the border and in border communities.

What else can he do that hasn’t been done? Abbott held the Border Security Summit to get input from law enforcement and local officials in border communities. He announced some additional initiatives, including the formation of a task force on border security.

During the summit, Abbott announced initiatives to address border concerns such as creating the Governor’s Task Force on Border and Homeland Security, as well as a $1 billion allocation towards border security.

The task force will include members from the Department of Public Safety, Texas Division of Emergency Management, Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Military Department.

Abbott announced that local law enforcement will be able to arrest illegal migrants, which was also mentioned when he declared a “ya basta” moment on behalf of landowners and residents of border communities. When asked, Abbott said that families and unaccompanied minors will not be arrested but single adults will. Single adults was the largest group of migrants in May numbers from Border Patrol. One problem that will arise from local law enforcement arresting migrants is that the burden of jailing and caring for them falls on those communities. How will communities already in short supply of resources be able to pay for the extra costs incurred from the arrests? Normally, law enforcement picks up migrants and turns them over to Border Patrol to process.

County Judge Cinderela Guevara headed to Del Rio for the summit after receiving a letter from the governor because she wanted to learn about how state officials are handling the humanitarian crisis on the border.

In the letter Guevara received on June 1, Abbott wrote, “You will hear from state officials on the actions that the State of Texas is taking to secure our southern border and combat the ongoing humanitarian crisis.” Guevara said that she expects most of the county judges on the border to be in attendance.

“Due to the open-border policies of President Joe Biden, Texas is experiencing an influx of people and contraband –– including weapons and dangerous drugs like fentanyl –– moving into our state,” Abbott continued in the letter. “For months, the Biden Administration has continued to turn a blind eye to this crisis, and so the State of Texas has stepped up in the federal government’s absence.”

In the letter, Abbott addressed the need for joint cooperation between state government, local city and county law enforcement officials, and landowners to secure border communities.

“What if arrests can be made? So now I have to be concerned because those arrests are going to be costs for us. It’s going to be feeding a person three meals a day, their medical bills, we’re going to have to take care of them.”

Guevara said she doesn’t know what the solution to the migrant crisis is. “I just know that the Biden Administration has had 100 days in office and they haven’t visited the border yet,” Guevara said. “I think it’s inevitable we’re going to have a problem, and my main concern is public safety.”

Abbott said that arrests could start next week. He asked local officials to submit their border security budgets to his office, past and future. The impression given to attendees is that money is available and the state will take care of their requests.

Abbott expects to appropriate $1 billion for border security, according to those present at the summit. He said he will provide further details on the border wall next week. Is the wall an actual wall, though, or is it more of a fence, as has been used in the past?

Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz said he was present for the summit breakout session that included local elected officials and said his impression was that Abbott’s border wall was more of a border “fence.”

Abbott “said ‘fence’ two or three times,” Saenz said.

Saenz said Abbott did not go into the details of how and when the border wall would be built. But his understanding is that the border wall, the fence or the border barrier would become the basis for arresting migrants — with the damage to the fence used as proof of the trespassing of private property.

The situation at the southern border continues to escalate. Neither Joe Biden or Kamala Harris have bothered to visit the border to see for themselves the problems on the ground. Their apathy forces border state governors to act. Abbott has risen to the occasion more than once and done what is possible for him to do. Throwing up barriers at the border looks like his next move. We’ll know more next week.

Jazz Shaw Jul 06, 2022 9:01 AM ET