The governor of Texas is using millions in taxpayer funds for projects pertaining to his desire to finish former president Donald Trump’s aborted wall along the US-Mexico border.
US President Joe Biden halted construction of the wall and ordered an end to the “Remain in Mexico” policy, under which tens of thousands of asylum applicants were awaiting rulings in Mexico.
In March, Gov. Greg Abbott launched “Operation Lone Star” alongside the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to purportedly combat a surge in human and drug trafficking into the state.
On Friday, Abbott said the Lone Star State has started construction on almost $38m worth of state-funded sections of border barriers built on state-owned land.
The barriers built by the same materials and methods as Trump’s border barrier using the same contractor allegedly fill in gaps in the barriers built on federal land during the Trump administration.
In September, Abbott signed legislation allotting roughly $2bn to various purported border security projects, with $750m going to barrier construction besides a quarter-billion approved last summer as part of another $1.05bn border appropriations bill.
Abbott and other Republicans accuse President Joe Biden of enacting an “open border” policy because he stopped construction of the border barrier.
On Friday, the governor retweeted a Fox News reporter’s tweet sharing photos of the state-funded barrier along with the comment, “Biden allows open border policies and refuses to enforce laws passed by Congress to secure the border and enforce immigration laws”.
“Texas is stepping up to do the federal government’s job,” he added.
Earlier this month, over 100 immigrant and civil rights groups filed a complaint calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to intervene to end Abbott’s migrant trespassing arrest policy by cutting off a significant portion of Texas’ federal funds.
Led by the American Civil Liberties Union, the groups have accused Texas of creating “what is in reality a system of state immigration enforcement that targets Black and Brown– primarily Latinx– individuals for prosecution and enhanced punishment”.
“Texas has created a separate criminal prosecution and detention system for these individuals, with separate criminal dockets, separate public defender assignments, separate jails (converted state prisons), and even a separate “criminal migrant processing facility” for booking. This separate system is riddled with civil rights violations, including failure to appoint counsel, failure to timely file charges, and even the unilateral replacement of judges,” they wrote.
Also, in July, the Department of Justice sued Abbott and the state of Texas after signing an order directing the DPS to stop vehicles suspected of carrying migrants and turn them back towards the border.