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Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday signed a nearly $ 2 billion border security funding bill that will nearly triple the amount the state spends on border defense in the next two-year budget cycle.
“It’s the federal government’s job to secure our border, but the Biden administration has been unable to do its job, so Texas is stepping up to do what the federal government is supposed to do,” he said. Abbott while signing the bill in Fort Worth. , surrounded by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, and Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, the authors of the bill.
The $ 1.888 billion spending bill, passed as House Bill 9, complements the $ 1.05 billion the state already allocated to border security in the spring. Democrats have denounced the price of nearly $ 3 billion for not including enough performance metrics to measure success.
“Governor Abbott House Bill 9 throws billions of dollars, mostly through short-term, unfocused law enforcement efforts, into a situation that demands comprehensive and thoughtful long-term solutions,” he said. say Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso. statement. “As a person who lives in sight of the international border, I know that many factors determine security. While law enforcement is certainly one of the things, the governor’s bill does not address the dire need for humanitarian assistance for migrants, many of whom are children and families trying to escape the death, aggression and slavery. As long as the refugees accumulate on both sides of the border, the security situation cannot be resolved. “
But Abbott, a two-term Republican seeking re-election next year, has turned border security and the plan to erect a wall into the center of this year as he blamed President Joe Biden’s administration for l increase in migrants this year.
Before signing the border security funding bill, Abbott said Biden’s policies have “opened the floodgates” to illegal immigration, crime, human trafficking and drug smuggling. He said he was signing the bill in Fort Worth because problems that start at the border end up targeting communities across Texas and the country.
On Thursday, Abbott confronted the federal government with thousands of immigrants – mostly from Haiti – hoping to enter the country under an international bridge in Del Rio.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have found more than 1.4 million immigrants on the Mexican border this year, including more than 212,000 in July, most of whom have been found. in a single month in two decades.
The number of crossers officials found was 34% in June.
Patrick, who heads the Senate, repeated a call he made on Fox News Thursday night for Republican-led states to tell Biden they were “invaded” by invoking Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution. This section guarantees states protection against invasion.
He said the Biden administration ‘s actions were leading Texas to “los[e] control of our border, our state and our country “.
Federal officials have acknowledged the challenge at the border because of what they call an unprecedented number of migrants. But the large number of immigrants has infuriated Republican governors, such as Abbott.
In June, Abbott declared a disaster in more than 30 Texas counties due to the rising number of migrants crossing the border. He also said the state would pay for a wall along the Mexican border, and re-spawned an issue driven by former President Donald Trump.
Approximately $ 750 million of the border security funding bill will go to the construction of the planned “border barrier”. They could include temporary chain fences and concrete barriers. That amount adds up to the $ 250 million the state already pledged this summer as a “down payment” for the wall.
Abbott’s office has said it identified 733 miles of border that may need some sort of barrier. The cost of erecting the barrier will likely exceed the $ 1 billion currently allocated, but Abbott’s office said it was a “suitable” place to start.
The governor has also started his own crowdfunding site where private donors can contribute to the construction of the wall. As of Sept. 15, the site had raised $ 54 million.
The bill will also return to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice $ 250 million that state lawmakers took out of their budget in June to pay the initial border payment. It will also include money for the department to turn three state detention centers into prisons that will detain people dragged by the state’s push to arrest migrants for state criminal offenses.
The Texas Military Department will receive $ 311 million to pay for the deployment of an additional 1,800 Texas National Guard troops to the border, bringing the number of troops sent to the border to 2,500. The Texas Military Department is also in charge of building temporary fences.
The Department of Public Safety will receive $ 154.8 million to provide 79 special operations soldiers at the border and 52 weeks of overtime pay for border operations.
The bill also includes money for the Texas Prison Standards Commission and the State Department of Health Services to ensure standards in state prisons that become prisons to house migrants and provide funding for ambulance contracts needed for border security efforts.
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