Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced key components of the Lone Star state’s plan to build its own barrier along its 1,200-mile border with Mexico at a press conference in Austin on Wednesday, including authorizing $250 million as a down payment to kickstart the process.
The Republican governor said that the funds are being drawn from the state budget, which allocates $1.1 billion towards border security—a record for Texas. The down payment will be used to hire a project manager and contractors for the border wall.
A letter (pdf) authorizing the transfer of the funds was signed at the press conference by Abbott, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, state House Speaker Dade Phelan, state Senator Jane Nelson, and state Rep. Greg Bonnen.
Abbott also signed a separate letter (pdf) directing the Texas Facilities Commission to hire a project manager to oversee the border wall construction, as well as the planning and execution of the construction. The project manager will also be in charge of hiring contractors and subcontractors to build the wall.
“Once hired, the program manager and contractors will identify state land and land that private landowners and local governments can volunteer for the wall,” the governor’s office announced in a release.
Anyone can donate to the construction of the wall via the donation page www.borderwall.texas.gov, Abbott announced. The Texas Division of Emergency Management will manage the donations.
At the conference, Abbott also signed a letter (pdf) to President Joe Biden to demand that his administration return any land taken by the federal government under prior administrations to build the border wall that has yet to be used for that purpose.
“The federal government used condemnation powers to take property from Texans for the purpose of building a border wall. Once you took office, however, your Administration made clear the federal government will not move forward with building the border wall at this time,” Abbott told Biden.
Once returned, Texas authorities will “visit with Texans whose land was taken by the federal government to determine if they will allow the State of Texas to build a wall on their land,” he added.
Details on how much barrier Texas would erect, or where or when it would be installed, have yet to be announced.
The latest announcements come after a Border Security Summit held last week in Del Rio, where Abbott first alerted the public to Texas’s plan to build its own border barrier and to arrest illegal immigrants.
In a statement on Wednesday, he said that the Biden administration “has abandoned its responsibilities to secure the border and Texans are suffering as a result.”
“The problems along the border are only getting worse due to President Biden’s inaction,” he said. “Property is being destroyed, deadly drugs and illegal weapons are being smuggled into communities throughout the state, law enforcement is having to redirect their resources, and county judges and mayors are facing skyrocketing expenses.
“Texas is doing more than any state has ever done to protect the border, but it is clear that more is needed. In the Biden Administration’s absence, Texas is stepping up to get the job done by building the border wall. Through this comprehensive public safety effort, we will secure the border, slow the influx of unlawful immigrants, and restore order in our border communities.”
The White House did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment on Abbott’s remarks.
Former President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he intends to join Abbott on an official visit to “our Nation’s decimated Southern Border” on June 30. “They turned it into the worst border crisis in U.S history,” Trump’s statement read.
Vice President Kamala Harris has not made a trip to the border since taking office. She has not said when she will visit. During a recent visit to Guatemala, she issued a message to potential migrants telling them not to try to enter the United States illegally, and that if they tried to do so, they would be turned back at the border.