WASHINGTON — Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott said Thursday that his state would build a wall along the border with Mexico and blamed President Joe Biden’s policies for a humanitarian crisis at the southern border.
The Republican governor announced the plan to build the barrier at a border security summit he hosted in Del Rio, a city along Texas’ southwestern border, and said he would release more details next week.
It’s unclear whether Abbott has the authority to build a wall on his state’s southern border; while some of the land is owned by the federal and state governments, much is also private property, which was an obstacle the Trump administration faced in its efforts to construct a wall.
At the summit, Abbott acknowledged it is the federal government’s responsibility to secure the border, but said, “Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows.”
“The state is working collaboratively with communities impacted by the crisis to arrest and detain individuals coming into Texas illegally,” Abbott said. “Our efforts will only be effective if we work together to secure the border, make criminal arrests, protect landowners, rid our communities of dangerous drugs, and provide Texans with the support they need and deserve.”
Abbott said people who enter Texas illegally will face arrest and confinement for trespassing and announced he has created a task force to help formulate ideas on how to stop undocumented immigrants and illegal contraband from entering the country.
As soon as Biden took office in January, he signed an order that paused all construction on the southern border and launched a 60-day review of Trump’s project. At the end of April, the Biden administration announced that it would cancel all border wall construction that was subsidized with redirected military funds.
Abbott’s announcement comes days after Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico to address the root causes of migration into the U.S. across the southern border. The administration has come under fire from Republicans for not yet visiting the border.
In an interview with NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt this week, Harris didn’t disagree that work needs to happen at the border, but said “that can't be the only way that we deal with the issue, which we know 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, and the U.S. won’t “see an immediate return” as a result of actions taken by the administration, she said.