FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesAbbott Appoints Border Security Czar: ‘Combating Illegal Immigration in Texas Is a Full-time Job’

The Texas Military said that the state has constructed more than 130 miles of barrier, including fencing with razor wire.
January 30, 2023
Gov. Greg Abbott announced near a portion of the border wall in San Benito that he appointed a former border patrol official to be the border security “czar” for Texas.

Mike Banks retired from the U.S. Border Patrol this month after over 20 years of service, Abbott said. He will be headquartered in the Weslaco area as he reports directly to Abbott on border security issues.

“Combating illegal immigration in Texas is a full-time job. It’s a job that requires a leader whose only focus is responding to President Biden’s open border policies,” Abbott said at a news conference.

The governor said border wall construction costs taxpayers about $25 million per mile, depending on geography. He also said the state is continuing to seek landowners who are willing to have the wall built on portions of their property.

“We’re not going to stand idly by while the Biden administration refuses to enforce the immigration laws,” Abbott said.

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Banks said he is “very passionate” about border security and is “extremely humbled” to be appointed by Abbott. He added that he has spent 23 years in enforcement.

“I look forward to continuing to work with our stakeholders, our law enforcement partners in the community, and leveraging everything we can to further protect our great State of Texas and the United States,” Banks said.

Banks also said his aim is to make Texas the “least desirable place for illegal immigration.”

Col. Steve McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Public Safety; Major General Thomas Suelzer; and Eddy Betancourt, commissioner of the Texas Facilities Commission, also appeared with Abbott.

Suelzer reiterated that Texas has National Guardsmen “arrayed across the Texas-Mexico border.” The major general indicated the state has constructed over 130 miles of “barrier,” including 72 miles of eight-foot fencing with razor wire and 58 miles of concertina wire.

Reps. Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) and Eddie Morales Jr. (D-Eagle Pass) recently contended Texas is not getting a return on investment for the border wall and other security measures via Operation Lone Star. The legislators made comments during a panel hosted by The Texan at the 88th Session Kickoff in Austin.

Sen. Pete Flores (R-Pleasanton) said he supported the estimated $4 billion in spending on Operation Lone Star.

During the news conference, Abbott also criticized the Biden administration’s use of humanitarian parole to release noncitizens into the country. The White House recently announced the expansion of that program to include an additional 30,000 people per month. The governor called it “completely illegal.”


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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."