Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is hosting former President Donald Trump on Wednesday at the Texas-Mexico border, where Abbott is using an unprecedented May 31 border "disaster" declaration to spend state funds on a border wall he has pledged to build. Abbott amended his order on Monday, giving the 34 border counties a chance to opt out of his emergency declaration and other counties a chance to join — 11 counties dropped out, and five new counties joined, some of them 300 miles or more away from the border.
Galveston County County Judge Mark Henry (R) said Tuesday that he has signed a local disaster declaration in response to the "ongoing border crisis." Galveston County is 400 miles from the nearest border town, Brownsville, and closer to New Orleans than Mexico. Henry's executive order establishes a task force to coordinate with state police on the best way local law enforcement can help at the border. It also dedicated up to $6.6 million in federal funds — or 10 percent of the money earmarked for the county from President Biden's American Rescue Plan — for Abbott's wall construction, the Houston Chronicle reports.
Abbott has said he plans to crowdsource funding for his wall, after a $250 million down payment of taxpayer money, and his office said it raised $459,000 in private donations in the first week. "As Abbott tries to raise money so the state can pick up building the border wall, Texas Democrats are trying to keep him from tapping into more than $15 billion in COVID relief funding the federal government is sending to Texas," the Chronicle reports. "Henry's local state of disaster declaration will remain in place for no more than seven days without authorization by the county commissioners court."
Abbott's wall scheme isn't the only creative public-private partnership tied to his border machinations. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem's (R) office said Tuesday that Tennessee billionaire and GOP mega-donor Willis Johnson is bankrolling her deployment of 50 South Dakota National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border. Abbott and Noem are both considered possible 2024 GOP presidential candidates.