During a press conference in Del Rio Thursday, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans to build a border wall along the Texas–Mexico border and promised to release more details in the coming week.
At the Border Security Summit, Abbott announced a slew of border initiatives, including a $1 billion allocation for border security in the state budget, an increase in arrests and jail capacity, and a Governor’s Task Force on Border and Homeland Security with public safety and state government officials. He also announced an interstate compact with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey to resolve the border “crisis,” and called on other states to do the same.
“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. “They don’t want to come across to the state of Texas anymore because it’s not what they were expecting. It’s not the red carpet that the federal administration rolled out to them.”
Abbott’s remarks at the summit came days after Abbott issued a disaster declaration on June 1, in which he directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to enforce all federal and state criminal laws, including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking. The state governor also faces electoral pressure in light of former state Sen. Don Huffines’ gubernatorial campaign promise to finish border wall construction in Texas.
“The border crisis is no laughing matter,” Abbott tweeted later. “It’s also not a tourism site for members of Congress to make an annual pilgrimage to see & then do nothing about. In the fed gov’t’s absence, Texas is taking additional action to secure the border & restore order.”
ACLU of Texas attorney Kate Huddleston called Abbott’s plan “unlawful” and said it could cause untold harm by separating families at the border.
“As we saw under President Trump, separating families by prosecuting parents creates lasting trauma for vulnerable young children and for their parents,” Huddleston said in a press release. “Abbott is also undermining the right to seek asylum by jailing those fleeing danger and punishing them for seeking refuge in the U.S.”