AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a big funding boost for southern border security.
In the second special session of 2021, the Texas Legislature approved $1.8 billion in additional funding to support border security efforts by the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas National Guard. On Friday, Gov. Abbott signed it into law, effective immediately. The money will be distributed over the course of two years, and supplemental funding passed by the legislature during this year's regular session.
The signing comes just a day after Gov. Abbott announced that he planned to close six ports of entry at the border. Soon after, he backed off because Texas does not have the power to close any part of the border. That's left to Homeland Security Customs & Border Patrol under the president.
"What he can do is assist the Border Patrol if they request his assistance," Mark Jones, who specializes in Texas politics and Latin American politics at Rice University, said.
In a follow-up statement, Gov. Abbott said the Biden Administration indeed asked for help. However, in an email response, CBP denied asking for any help recently.
This all comes as thousands of migrants, mainly from Haiti, have amassed at the Texas-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas.
"You have approximately 10,000 people with little in the way of shelter who have a little ticket in their hand and are waiting to be processed," Jones said.
Processing a single migrant could take hours, so processing thousands of people would take at least a week or more. As President Joe Biden has kept President Donald Trump's "Remain in Mexico" policy in place, these migrants are caught in the middle.
"What's happened over the past few months is Mexico has begun refusing to receive those Haitians," Jones said. "Unless the United States government is going to fly them back to Haiti, they're in this purgatory where Mexico doesn't want them, the United States doesn't want them. And so many end up either right there on the border."
Part of the new law also helps fund a barrier along some of Texas' southern border.
"The borders are secure," Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, an immigration attorney in Austin, said. "Border Patrol does its job and keeps undocumented migrants from crossing without inspection."
"It's instances like these where a border wall is useless because these individuals want to immediately surrender to the Border Patrol. They aren't trying to scale over a wall. They aren't trying to go around a wall. They simply are going to go up to the first Border Patrol officer they see and request political asylum," Jones added.
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