Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott formally announced the first step in his plan to build a wall along the state’s border with Mexico Wednesday, setting aside $250 million as a “down payment” to hire a project manager and contractors.
Abbott announced plans for the wall project last week, in an echo of former President Donald Trump’s infamous vow during the 2016 presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for a wall along the entire southwestern border between the two countries.
By contrast, the proposed Texas wall will be funded in part by donations, with Abbott announcing the creation of a website for people to send money to support the project.
The governor also said that in addition to using state land to construct the barrier, he would also rely on private landowners and local governments to “volunteer” territory for the wall.
“My belief, based upon conversations that I’ve already had, is a combination of state land as well as volunteer land will yield hundreds of miles to build a wall in the state of Texas,” Abbott told reporters at a news conference in Austin.
On June 1, Abbott declared a disaster in 34 counties on or near the border with Mexico, claiming that authorities were being overrun by “dangerous gangs and cartels [and] human traffickers.”
The governor echoed those remarks Wednesday, claiming the Biden administration had “abandoned its responsibilities to secure the border and Texans are suffering as a result.”
“The problems along the border are only getting worse due to President Biden’s inaction,” Abbott continued. “Property is being destroyed, deadly drugs and illegal weapons are being smuggled into communities throughout the state, law enforcement is having to redirect their resources, and county judges and mayors are facing skyrocketing expenses. Texas is doing more than any state has ever done to protect the border, but it is clear that more is needed.”
Abbott also released a letter to Biden in which he demanded that the federal government cede control of any land it confiscated in Texas to build a border wall during the Trump administration and charged that the White House is making Texas “‘ground zero’ for a dramatic influx of unlawful immigrants.”
“All of America will suffer from the flood of dangerous drugs, human traffickers, and convicted criminals that may cause harm in other states after entering through Texas,” Abbott wrote.
Biden paused construction of the border wall during his first month in office, a decision that Republicans have criticized as the number of illegal immigrants stopped at the US-Mexico border reaches numbers not seen in more than two decades.
On Tuesday, Trump announced that he and Abbott would visit the border region on June 30 to draw attention to what Trump described as his successor’s “grave and willful dereliction of duty.”