By HEIDI PÉREZ-MORENO, The Texas Tribune
Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he will build a border wall along the state’s boundary with Mexico — but provided no details on where or when — during a press conference in Del Rio Thursday afternoon.
He said he would discuss the plans next week. The Biden administration issued a proclamation that stopped border wall construction on his first day of office.
Abbott announced the news while discussing a slew of border initiatives, such as a $1 billion allocation for border security in the state budget lawmakers just passed and a plan to establish a Governor’s Task Force on Border and Homeland Security with public safety and state government officials.
“It will help all of us to work on ways to stem the flow of unlawful immigration and to stem the flow of illegal contraband,” Abbott said, while seated next to officials from the National Guard, Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Division of Emergency Management.
Abbott didn’t address the ongoing conflict between himself and the Biden administration that escalated this week after federal officials threatened to sue Texas over Abbott’s order to strip certain shelters for migrant children of their state licenses, which could force the shelter operators — which operate under contracts with the federal government — to move the children elsewhere.
The 52 state-licensed shelters house roughly 8,600 children, according to data from the state. In a letter to Texas officials Monday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services attorney Paul Rodriguez asked Texas to clarify Abbott’s order and said it could violate the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, which states that federal law overrides state laws. He gave Texas until Friday to respond.
Abbott has blamed the recent surge of migrants to the Texas-Mexico border on the Biden administration’s immigration policies, claiming in a disaster declaration this week that new federal policies have paved the way for “dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers, and deadly drugs like fentanyl to pour into our communities.”
Two weeks ago, Abbott deployed more than 1,000 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers and National Guard members to the border as part of Operation Lone Star — an initiative he announced in March aimed at beefing up security at the border with troopers and National Guard. Abbott later expanded those efforts to also tackle human trafficking at the border, including a plan for DPS troopers and Texas Rangers to interview unaccompanied minors that cross the border to identify potential human trafficking victims.
During his first months in office, Biden paused border wall construction started under former President Donald Trump and ordered a review of the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, which required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their cases could be heard in U.S. immigration courts.
The Biden Administration has referred to its new policies as a way to be more humane toward migrants.
After Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico this week, she told NBC’s Lester Holt, “We have to understand that there’s a reason people are arriving at our border and ask what is that reason and then identify the problem so we can fix it.”
During her trip, she faced backlash from progressives after she told Guatemalans: “Do not come.”