Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state's plans to build a border wall as the immigration surge continues and authorized the transfer of $250 million as a down payment to launch the construction.
Abbott held a press conference on Wednesday to address the state's plans for border wall construction to help thwart the flow of migrants entering the U.S. through the southern border.
Abbott and other top state officials signed a letter authorizing the down payment. The governor explained that the state budget allocates $1.1 billion towards border security.
The governor had early vowed that “Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows.”
"The problems people are continuing to suffer on the border are just continuing to get worse," Abbott said. "They are getting worse for residents living in that region. They are getting worse for people in all regions across the entire state of Texas. If you just look at the numbers, they paint a picture."
"Look at the number of people who were coming across the border last April when President Trump was president," the Republican added. "They apprehended just over 17,000 people coming across the border last year. This year, in the month of April, they have apprehended more than 170,000 people."
Abbott reported that "similar numbers were echoed in the month of May."
The declining immigration numbers for 2020 follow a dramatic rise in border apprehensions in 2019 as the Trump administration closed the border during the coronavirus pandemic and enacted policies requiring asylum seekers to wait outside the U.S. for their asylum cases to be adjudicated.
"Also, the type of people coming across the border is changing. Early on, it was unaccompanied minors. Now, the majority of people coming across the border are adults coming across alone," the governor explained. "Also, what is changing is the carnage that is being caused by people who are coming across the border."
He said that some ranchers' fences had been completely decimated, causing border ranchers to lose their livestock and border farmers to lose crops.
"Homes are being invaded. Neighborhoods are dangerous and people are being threatened on a daily basis with guns of people either coming across the border of those working with those coming across the border," Abbott added. "Cartels, human and drug smugglers and human traffickers, they are all profiting off our open border crisis."
Former President Donald Trump, who campaigned on securing the southern border, is set to visit the U.S.-Mexican border on June 30 with Abbott.
Around 450 miles of border wall construction was completed under Trump.
"The Biden administration inherited from me the strongest, safest, and most secure border in U.S. history and in mere weeks, they turned it into the single worst border crisis in US history," Trump said in a statement.
"We went from having border security that was the envy of the world to a lawless border that is now pitied around the world," the former president continued.
Illegal immigration numbers are climbing, and border agents are overwhelmed with the number of immigrants arriving at the border.
Preliminary Customs and Border Protection data shows the illegal immigrant surge crossing the U.S.-Mexico southern border in the fiscal year 2021 surpasses the totals of every year since 2006 with four months left, Axios reported on June 8.
The border surge also correlates with drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Customs and Border Protection agents have seized more fentanyl, a fatal drug, in the fiscal year 2021, which began last October, than they seized during all of the fiscal year 2020.
“CBP continues to see a large influx of illegal migration along the Southwest Border,” CBP Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Commissioner Troy Miller said in a statement.
“In order to disrupt criminal organizations that have little regard for human life, CBP is leading the way alongside external law enforcement partners through Operational Sentinel,” Miller continued. “Day after day, CBP rescues migrants abandoned in harsh terrain, left for dead with no food or water. CBP is committed to enhancing the security of the U.S. border and helping save the lives of vulnerable migrants.”
There has also been a 163% increase in unaccompanied minors at the border from March 2020 to March 2021, according to CBP.
A Border Patrol agent of 31 years said illegal immigrants had caused more “intentional damage,” mentioning cases in the past six months of immigrants trespassing on ranches, destroying fences and water pipes, leaving water faucets on and breaking into homes.
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe thinks the actions are done “out of spite,” and are not as respectful as they have been in the past.
“We’re starting to see more intentional damage,” Coe, who was formerly a Border Control agent, told The Epoch Times. “I’ve never seen it quite like this. Somebody’s making a statement.”
Uvalde County Sheriff Ruben Nolasco told the news outlet that the illegal immigrants are now more aggressive, which means many ranches or homeowners need to carry a gun on their property.
Nolasco shared that an uptick in stolen vehicles, criminal mischief and burglaries correlated with the surge of migrants pouring into the country, even though they are located around 60 miles from the border.
“It’s a mess. That’s what it is. But nobody seems to care about us down here,” Nolasco shared. “... And they say that everything’s OK. No, it’s not OK."
Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tapped to be “border czar” on March 24, is yet to visit the southern border. Harris has faced heavy criticism from Republicans.
Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico last week to address the “root causes” of immigration and told people thinking of leaving for the U.S.: “do not come.”
On his first day in office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to halt border wall construction, a move Republican lawmakers say is unauthorized since funds for construction had already been appropriated.
Biden also reversed many of the Trump era immigration policies.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Biden and Harris could “fix the border crisis tomorrow” if they ended the “catch and release” policy and reinstated the "Remain in Mexico" policy.
“Texas will finish what President Trump started,” Abbott tweeted. “The Lone Star State will do what Biden REFUSES to do — protect our citizens along the southern border.
Texas will finish what President Trump started.— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 15, 2021
Later this week, I will unveil our plans to build a border wall.
The Lone Star State will do what Biden REFUSES to do — protect our citizens along the southern border. pic.twitter.com/qQ7vQTDWAI
Abbott recently hosted a Border Security Summit in Del Rio to announce a new plan to address the surge in illegal immigration.
“President Biden’s open-border policies have led to a humanitarian crisis at our southern border as record levels of illegal immigrants, drugs, and contraband pour into Texas,” Abbott said in a statement.
“While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows,” Abbott continued. “The state is working collaboratively with communities impacted by the crisis to arrest and detain individuals coming into Texas illegally.”
“Our efforts will only be effective if we work together to secure the border, make criminal arrests, protect landowners, rid our communities of dangerous drugs, and provide Texans with the support they need and deserve,” he added. “This is an unprecedented crisis, and Texas is responding with the most robust and comprehensive border plan the nation has ever seen.”
Abbott announced on June 10 Texas will "arrest and detain individuals coming into Texas illegally" and surge "resources into border communities to make arrests and to help set up and maintain extra jail space."
Emily Wood is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org