“Construction of strategic fencing continues along the Texas-Mexico border. Miles of razor wire is being used to repel illegal immigrant crossings into our state,” Abbott wrote. “Progress is being made on our border wall. Texas is securing the border.”
The tweet included an image of rolls of barbed wire fencing and another image of a completed chain-linked fence with barbed wire perched at the top facing both directions. In the second photograph, a male construction worker in a yellow vest is accompanying a convoy of front-loaders traveling parallel to the fence.
Abbott launched the border fence project in June after the end of the 87th legislature’s regular session. The border wall has received hundreds of millions of dollars of state funding and donations, including a donation in excess of $53 million from Timothy Mellon, a Wyoming billionaire with a history of supporting GOP candidates.
Mellon’s grandfather was the late Treasury Secretary Andrew M. Mellon.
The Texas legislature provided an additional $1.02 billion in border security funding during the second called session, most of which was for the border fence.
Both Republicans and Democrats supported the additional border fence funding, though some lawmakers pushed back on the idea that the border is a disaster area that requires an influx of spending on security.
President Biden stopped construction on the federal government’s border wall almost as soon as he took office in January. However, Chris Magnus, the Arizona police chief Biden has nominated to lead U.S. Customs and Border Protection, stated in a hearing that he was open to resuming a part of the border wall if it was prudent.
There were more than 1.15 million apprehensions of illegal aliens in Texas border patrol sectors in Fiscal Year 2021, not including the estimated number of people who evaded custody, which could be up to two or more individuals per arrest.
All three of Abbott’s challengers in the Republican primary, Chad Prather, Don Huffines, and Allen West, have made border security a key issue in their campaigns. In fact, in the first few weeks of his candidacy, Huffines touted the endorsement of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin.
When he backed Huffines in May, McLaughlin called Abbott a “fraud” and noted that schools had to be shut down in Uvalde due to illegal immigration threatening the safety of the town, which is near the southern border.
Abbott’s GOP opponents have criticized him for failing to reduce illegal crossings and have made campaign pledges to introduce more stringent policies and be more confrontational with the federal government on the issue.
While border security is primarily a federal responsibility, Abbott ramped up the state’s border response in March with an effort known as Operation Lone Star, which has resulted in the arrests of tens of thousands of illegal aliens and the seizure of thousands of pounds of narcotics.
In a statement to The Texan on Monday, Department of Public Safety (DPS) Press Secretary Ericka Miller provided the most recent statistics for Operation Lone Star, which are current through November 11.
“Since Operation Lone Star began, DPS has made 9,162 criminal arrests, including 1,864 for criminal trespassing. There have also been 7,230 felony charges filed. In addition, DPS has made more than 77,500 migrant apprehensions and referrals, and there have been 929 vehicle pursuits,” Miller wrote.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.