Watch LIVE: Abbott gives details on his plan for a border wall
AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott is scheduled to deliver remarks at 2 p.m. Mountain time Wednesday at the state Capitol detailing his plans to build a border wall.
Last week, Abbott hinted during a self-styled border summit in Del Rio that he would create a border barrier to stem the flow of immigrants and illegal drugs into the state, but he did not give details on where the barrier would be built or how it would be funded.
On Tuesday, Abbott told “Ruthless,” a podcast about Republican politics, that the state would solicit donations from across the country to help pay for the wall. He said he would have a link prepared when he made the announcement, and all the money donated would be tracked and accounted for.
Abbott, a two-term Republican governor, has blamed the Biden administration in Washington for a recent surge of immigrants on Texas’ southern border, saying in an earlier disaster declaration 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.”
Abbott has deployed National Guard troops to the border and ordered the Texas Department of Public Safety to arrest immigrants and charge them for state laws such as trespassing, illegal entry, smuggling and human trafficking.
Immigrant rights advocates have said arresting and prosecuting immigrant parents who cross the border with their children seeking asylum could lead to the same separation of families seen under the Trump administration. Advocates have also expressed concern that the move essentially criminalizes seeking asylum.
But critics have also questioned Abbott’s authority to get involved in immigration regulation, which is a federal government purview. The League of United Latin American Citizens has threatened to sue the state as soon as Abbott finalizes his plan for the border wall.
Building a wall along the entire U.S.-Mexico border was a hallmark of former President Donald Trump’s campaign. Once in office, his administration built about 450 miles of barrier, mostly in Arizona and far less in the Rio Grande Valley, according to The Washington Post.
On Tuesday, Trump said he received and has accepted an invitation from Abbott to tour the border at the end of the month.
Federal lawmakers have said building portions of the wall in Texas cost $26.5 million per mile. The Biden administration, which has ordered the federal government to stop construction of the wall where possible, said last week that building the wall cost taxpayers $46 million per mile in some areas along the border.
Abbott’s plan to crowd-fund the border wall’s construction is reminiscent of We Build The Wall, a private fundraising effort that raised more than $25 million for construction of a border wall. Last year, four people involved in We Build The Wall — including Steve Bannon, Trump’s former adviser — were charged with allegedly defrauding donors to the effort. Trump pardoned Bannon before leaving office in January.
The plan has another parallel to a 2011 effort by the Arizona Legislature to create a website that raised funds for constructing a fence on its Mexico border. That effort received almost $270,000 by 2014, and an advisory committee gave most of it in 2015 to a county sheriff who invested the money in security technology like GPS systems, according to The Arizona Republic.
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