A Texas plan to add $100 million for border “surge operations” was heading toward approval in the closing hours of the state Legislature. Then it hit a political brick wall.
A set of last-minute “technical corrections” took the money off the table the day before adjournment as Gov. Greg Abbott and Republican lawmakers bowed to resistance from minority Democrats. The Dallas Morning News reported that the funds “apparently would have been for federal National Guard operations.”
Republican Rep. John Zerwas, the House’s chief budget writer, characterized the $100 million as “a bit redundant.” Indeed, the Legislature continued its biennial appropriation of $800 million for state troopers along the nearly 2,000-mile Texas-Mexico border, the largest sum any state contributes toward border enforcement.
But merely maintaining the status-quo is a losing proposition. Amid record waves of migrant “family units” and asylum seekers surging into South Texas, the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement admitted in March that federal authorities “cannot secure the border in a meaningful way.”
Not waiting for Austin or Washington to step up, a private group called “We Build the Wall” began erecting a border barricade near El Paso last weekend. The project aims to plug a gap near Mount Cristo Rey, where drug smugglers and human traffickers operate virtually unimpeded. The barrier is being built on private land.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection in the El Paso Sector — which spans El Paso and Hudspeth counties in Texas and the state of New Mexico — apprehend an average of 930 people per day.
The private venture comes as a federal judge on Friday blocked construction of two other sections of border wall, ruling that money secured under President Trump’s national-security declaration could not be used.
The order by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr., an Obama appointee, temporarily prevents work along 46 miles in New Mexico and another covering five miles in Yuma, Ariz.