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Texas to build border wall with Mexico: GOP governor

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The file photo shows border wall construction near farmland in Progreso, Texas, the United States. (By AP)

Four years since former President Donald Trump promised to construct a wall along the southern border of the United States, the Texas governor says the state will build that wall along the state border to prevent illegal crossings.

Governor Greg Abbott, a second-term Republican, said on Thursday he will announce plans next week to build the wall, although the Trump-era plan was discontinued upon President Joe Biden’s arrival at the White House in January.

"Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows,” Abbott said of border crossings into the country.

The governor did not provide details about his plans for the wall, but said he would introduce a series of measures to strengthen police resources to detain people who cross the border illegally.

“I will announce next week the plan for the state of Texas to begin building the border wall,” he said at a border security summit in Del Rio on Friday.

Abbott explained that he would start by setting up barriers to identify people trying to cross the border and by deploying additional law enforcement agents to assist the Border Patrol.

Trump had sparked controversy during his 2016 election campaign when he branded Mexican migrants as "rapists" and drug dealers, and vowed to build a wall across the southern border.

His Democratic successor, however, signed an order that paused all construction on the southern border and launched a 60-day review of Trump’s project in January 2021.

At the end of April, the Biden administration announced that it would cancel all border wall construction that was subsidized with redirected military funds.

It is not clear if Texas has the authority to build a wall, now.

The plan sparked criticism and anger among human rights groups and Democrats, who dubbed it a "political theater" that will not pass legal muster.

National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens Domingo Garcia said, “States don’t have authority over immigration and our borders, that’s a federal authority.”

“It’s not constitutional and we’re planning to challenge it in court once we see the final order.”

“Governor Abbott is planning to steal Texans’ land for a political stunt,” tweeted Democratic Texas representative Joaquin Castro.

Previous attempts to build a wall at the border have been unsuccessful. Of the 1,000 miles of border wall Trump pledged to build on Mexico’s dime, only about 80 new miles of fencing have been constructed.

Biden, who promised to halt border wall construction, has stopped some funds related to constructing the wall.

The president now stands accused of inciting a chaotic migrant rush on the border with Mexico.

Washington has been battling to house and process an increasing number of unaccompanied children who have been stuck in prison-like border stations for days.

Biden, who has promised to unwind many Trump-era immigration policies, had already opened a detention center, used by his predecessor, to lock up hundreds of refugee children.

More than 10,000 kids, including many of those forcibly separated from their parents, are now in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services as US officials are struggling to process them.

Around 5,200 others are also stranded in Border Patrol facilities not designed for long-term custody, US media reports say.

Biden is under fire for failing to respond effectively and lacking transparency with the media, with his fellow Democrats criticizing his administration for using notorious Trump-era detainment facilities in Texas to keep migrant children.

Democrats had used the issue of detainment facilities to accuse Trump of putting “kids in cages.”

In a related development, Biden’s Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico earlier this week to address the immigration crisis.

She discouraged potential migrants from crossing the border, telling them, “Do not come.”

Harris acknowledged that work needs to happen at the border, but said, "That can't be the only way that we deal with the issue."

She said the border issue “is an issue that is not only about effect but causation. And the causation piece is significant.”

"There's not going to be a quick fix” to the border situation, she added.

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