Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Thursday that Texas will build its own border wall with Mexico. He didn't say where, when, or how he plans to pay for the wall. Also, "it is unclear if the state has the authority to build a wall in an attempt to deter immigrants," The New York Times notes. The two-year budget passed by the Texas Legislature allocates more than $1 billion for border security, though Abbott didn't say if he envisions using that money to pay for his wall. He said he will provide more details next week.
Abbott made his announcement in the border town Del Rio, alongside state law enforcement officials. He also said Texas will jail anyone "who enters our state illegally and is found trespassing, engaged in vandalism, criminal mischief, or smuggling," find extra cells in local jails, and form an interstate compact with Gov. Doug Ducey (R) of Arizona, two states over. These changes will deter border-crossing in Texas, Abbott predicted, because "it's not the red carpet that the federal administration rolled out to them."
Abbott has clashed for months with the Biden administration, which paused or canceled former President Donald Trump's border wall construction and started allowing unaccompanied minors to seek asylum while sending most other would-be migrants back to Mexico. U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday that 180,034 people tried to enter the U.S. from Mexico in May — and 112,302 were expelled.
Abbott also faces a new GOP primary challenge to his 2022 re-election bid from former state Sen. Doug Huffines, whose campaign has promised to finish Trump's border wall in Texas — a point Huffines noted Thursday. "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," he tweeted.
The ACLU of Texas disagreed. Abbott's plan undermines the federal "right to seek asylum by jailing those fleeing danger and punishing them for seeking refuge in the U.S," said ACLU staff attorney Kate Huddleston. "In this plan, Abbott is yet again scapegoating immigrants in an effort to distract from his own failures in governing and managing actual crises in Texas — like the historic winter storm that led to the deaths of more than 150 Texans — with cruel results."