Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Thursday that Texas will build its own border wall and also begin to arrest people crossing the border illegally next week.
There was strong reaction to Abbott's plan from critics.
In a Border Security Summit Thursday afternoon in Del Rio, Abbott said he has plans to build a larger border wall and that he’s going to build border barriers that will allow the state to arrest people crossing the border illegally and trespassing on private property.
News from around the state of Texas.
"I will announce, next week, the plan for the state of Texas to begin building the border wall," Abbott said.
Abbott also announced several other initiatives, including a new task force, allocating $1 billion in funds for border security from the state budget.
"Change is needed on the border crisis," Abbott said. "(The task force) will help all of us to work on ways to stem the flow of unlawful immigration and to stem the flow of illegal contraband."
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."
"This is a huge waste of taxpayer money, and very likely illegal," Domingo Garcia, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, said in a statement. "Equally disturbing are his plans to arrest migrants at the border, even as they arrive seeking political asylum or refugees who are fleeing desperate conditions in their home countries. His proposed actions are inhumane."
Garcia added that LULAC is "considering filing an injunction against Governor Abbott for his abuse of power, and using refugee children as political piñatas to cynically launch his run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination."
State Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) said any money used for a wall would come at the expense of other state programs that need the money.
"Governor Abbott will stop at nothing to pander to a Republican base when he’s obviously running for president. This is a failed strategy," Anchia said.
Dallas LULAC leader Rene Martinez agreed that Abbott is using the issue for his political gain.
"He’s continuing to use immigrants as scapegoats. That’s the raw meat for the Republican Party," Martinez said.
It also wasn't clear what authority Abbot could use to build the wall since much of the borderland in Texas is privately owned and would need to be bought by the government or taken through eminent domain, which was an obstacle faced by the Trump and Bush administrations in their efforts to construct a wall. Hundreds of those cases are still tied up in the courts.
There was strong support for Abbott's words at the Border Security Summit.
It brought together Texas sheriffs, police chiefs, county judges, mayors, and landowners to hear from state officials on the actions the state is taking to secure the southern border and address the ongoing humanitarian issues.
This summit focused on collaborative strategies between state government, local city and county officials, law enforcement, and landowners to secure border communities and attempt to ensure a safer future for all Texans, according to Abbott's office.
Sitting next to officials from the National Guard, Texas Department of Public Safety, and Texas Division of Emergency Management, Abbott began his remarks Thursday by arguing "a border crisis was plaguing" residents in the border area, and blamed the crisis on policies of the Biden administration he said were "open-border."
He, however, did not address the ongoing legal battle between Texas officials and the Biden administration. On Tuesday, the Biden administration threatened to sue after Abbott ordered last week that Texas regulators can revoke the licenses of facilities that house unaccompanied migrant children.
The remarks at the Border Security Summit come after Abbott issued a disaster declaration along the border on June 1. In the declaration, he directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to enforce all federal and state criminal laws, including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking.
Abbott said more details would be provided on border wall proposal next week, when the arrests would also begin.