AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday afternoon discussed details on the state building its own wall along the southern border.
The governor made the announcement last week during a summit about border security with law enforcement officials.
“Texas is stepping up… and doing more than any other state has done to respond to these challenges along the border. [Texas lawmakers] just passed a budget adding more than a billion dollars to border security for Texas to do the federal government’s job,” Abbott said.
During a news conference with other state officials, Abbott said the process has begun of building the border wall after signing several letters for funding and demanding land back from the federal government.
Abbott said the state will hire a program manager to oversee the wall’s construction and to determine the overall costs of building it. The governor signed a letter to the executive director of the Texas Facilities Commission that asks the agency to hire a program manager.
Abbott and other officials, including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan, signed a letter that allocates $250 million as a down payment toward the construction. The $250 million will be coming from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The last letter was aimed at President Joe Biden. Abbott said the letter demanded that any land taken by the federal government for a wall along the southern border be returned to the state. This demand was made after the Biden administration halted the construction of former President Donald Trump’s wall.
“President Biden, return Texas land to Texas,” Abbott said after signing the letter.
The governor also introduced a website where residents can learn more about the wall and donate to the wall’s funding. It is currently known exactly how many miles the wall will be.
An attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas released a statement on the governor’s plan for a border wall, saying, in part: “Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Patrick, and House Speaker Phelan plan to revive the most heinous and harmful policies and political theater of the Trump administration… In reality, Abbott’s proposal could tear families apart at the border and allow law enforcement to terrorize people arriving in the United States in search of safety and refuge. The announcement shows how little Abbott and his cohorts care about fellow Texans.”
A North Texas law professor spoke with CBS 11 News last week about the governor’s announcement and said she expects the federal government to step in and question the decision.
“The question is, what is already there? How is this proposal going to interact with what’s already in place, again, either with respect to physical infrastructure, like a wall or a fence or something like that, or with respect to personnel,” Natalie Nanasi, a law professor specializing in humanitarian immigration law at SMU, said.
“The federal government has international obligations to protect vulnerable populations to ensure that asylum seekers with credible claims are not returned to their home countries,” she added.