Greg Abbott

Gov. Abbott Holds Border Security Briefing With Sheriffs at Texas Capitol

The governor will be joined by sheriffs from Texas border communities

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) held a border security briefing Saturday at the state Capitol, where he was joined by 11 sheriffs from border communities.

The briefing comes after Abbott named border security as one of the 11 priorities for the Texas Legislature's special session, which began Thursday.

Abbott said he intended to meet every other week with the sheriffs to talk about what was happening in their regions and what their needs are.

Among the topics raised in the discussion was the issue of where to house people who have been arrested.

Abbott has pledged to make more arrests of people crossing the border into Texas illegally and on Saturday mentioned strategies to identify more jail cells and funding for those cells.

He said he is also asking for additional appropriations from the Texas Legislature during the special session to "fund the needs the sheriff's have articulated" as well as "additional strategies that will be conducted by the state of Texas," which he did not elaborate on.

Abbott, who has earned former President Donald Trump's endorsement in the 2022 gubernatorial election, slammed the Biden administration's handling of the border and immigration.

"We are not going to abdicate our responsibility to make sure that we are enforcing the rule of law," he said. "We are just working on the strategies that are needed to make sure the state of Texas is providing our local officials every tool and every resource they need so that they're going to be able to keep their communities safe."

Abbott announced plans for Texas to build a border wall along the Texas-Mexico border in June.

On Saturday, he offered few new specifics about the wall project, but said that the Texas Facilities Commission has begun the process to hire a program manager and receive bids for construction.

"The cost is coming in lower than we thought. The speed at which the wall will be able to able to be built is coming along faster than we thought. And the money that will be provided for building the wall is going to increase," Abbott said.

He did not provide figures for the cost of construction and said the funding would come from the state of Texas, as well as private contributions.

According to a University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll published June 28, Texas voters considered immigration and border security as the most important facing the state.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded 180,034 encounters on the Mexican border in May, the most since March 2000. The numbers were boosted by a pandemic-related ban on seeking asylum that encouraged repeat attempts to cross because getting caught carried no legal consequences.

Nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children were picked up along the border in March, by far the highest month on record. April was second-highest and May was third-highest.

Abbott has denied criticism that his measures are just for show, has said that "anyone who thinks this is politics doesn't have a clue what's going on at the border."

Abbott was also joined by Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief Nim Kidd, Adjutant General of Texas Tracy Norris and Texas Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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