Texas breaks new ground on state-backed border wall in Rio Grande City


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Governor Greg Abbott holds a security briefing in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Abbott announced on Saturday, December 18 that a state-funded wall was being built along the border with Mexico. (Austin American-Stateman / TNS)

AUSTIN, Texas (Tribune News Service) – Construction crews have started work on a border wall funded by the state of Texas and private donations, Governor Greg Abbott said on Saturday.

Speaking in front of a segment of the wall in Rio Grande City, Abbott said the barrier was constructed from the same materials used by former President Donald Trump, who oversaw the construction of 17 miles of barriers in Texas during his mandate.

“Texas is taking what is truly unprecedented action by any state, for a state to build a wall across our border to secure and protect US sovereignty, as well as our own state.” said Abbott, flanked by Texas Land. Commissioner George P. Bush and representatives from the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department.

Border security has been a top priority for Abbott this year as he prepares to run for a third term next year. He has devoted significant state resources to the border, arguing that the Biden administration has failed to act to stem the influx of migrants there.

“This unprecedented action is needed for one reason only,” Abbott said. “This is because the Biden administration did not do its job as constitutionally required, as required by laws passed by Congress to enforce United States of America immigration laws. . “

In May, Abbott issued a disaster declaration and announced that it planned to build a barrier using a combination of state dollars and private donations. He said the barrier would be built on land donated by private owners. The first section is built on land managed by the General Directorate of Lands.

Trump, who has championed the construction of a barrier along the southwest border, built 453 miles of primary and secondary walls, but work was halted after Biden took office.

Abbott said on Saturday that the state-supported wall under construction is now “a replica of the border wall President Trump erected,” using the same design concept and materials, which include heavy gauge steel studs. The Texas Facilities Commission is overseeing five contractors selected to design and build the barrier, including one who worked on Trump’s wall.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers allocated an estimated $ 1 billion to build the wall, in addition to $ 2 billion for other border security initiatives, including the deployment of additional personnel in charge of the wall. law enforcement at the border and increased prosecution of migrants arrested for crimes.

Some House Democrats bristled against the price during the debate over the spending proposal in August and asked pointed questions about how disbursements by Abbott’s office would be monitored.

Democrat candidate Beto O’Rourke called Saturday’s event a “photo-op.”

“Border communities are fed up with Greg Abbott hosting photo ops instead of solving the real challenges facing our border communities today, as Abbott Tax border families will pay on their utility bills because he doesn’t ‘failed to repair the network,’ O’Rourke said in a report.

The governor also collected private donations for the border wall effort and said on Saturday he had raised $ 54 million. A Texas Tribune investigation found that 98% of those donations came from an out-of-state billionaire: Timothy Mellon, who donated $ 53.1 million in stock to the state in August.

Abbott declined to say on Saturday how much the entire project would ultimately cost, citing variables such as different terrains along the border or which waterways construction crews will have to navigate.

“We are going to spend as much as it takes to build as many walls as possible,” he said.

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