Elections 2022FederalImmigration & BorderIssuesTaxes & SpendingTexas Declares State of Disaster in Border Counties Over Illegal Immigration

Gov. Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster, saying the federal government has left requests for assistance “unanswered.”
June 2, 2021
On Tuesday, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that he had declared a state of disaster in many of the counties along the state’s border with Mexico, alleging that the Biden administration “has shown unwillingness, ambivalence, or inability to enforce federal immigration laws.”

The disaster declaration, which says President Biden’s border policies have caused a “humanitarian crisis in many Texas communities along the border,” came the same day former President Trump endorsed Abbott for reelection.

“No governor has done more to secure the border and keep our communities safe than Governor Abbott,” Trump stated in his endorsement.

“By declaring a state of disaster in these counties, Texas will have more resources and strategies at our disposal to protect landowners and enforce all federal and state laws to combat criminal activities stemming from the border crisis,” the governor’s office said in a press release.

The disaster proclamation covers Brewster, Brooks, Cameron, Crockett, Culberson, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, El Paso, Goliad, Gonzales, Hidalgo, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Kenedy, Kinney, La Salle, Lavaca, Maverick, McMullen, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Reeves, Starr, Sutton, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Zapata, and Zavala Counties, some of which have already declared their own states of disaster locally.

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Among the grievances listed in the document, Abbott said the federal government under Biden has “enabled escalating violence from cartels” and implemented policies that feed into human trafficking. The proclamation also mentions the worsening fentanyl crisis in Texas.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission also must cancel the state licenses of childcare centers that “shelters or detains” unaccompanied minors. The Biden administration has faced backlash for failing to fully plan for the care of illegal aliens and unaccompanied children.

Abbott’s proclamation, which notes that “securing the international border is the federal government’s responsibility,” says that the State of Texas has spent $3.5 billion to supplement border security. He also touted the progress of Operation Lone Star, which has resulted in 1,300 criminal apprehensions, enforcement action against 35,000 illegal aliens, and the confiscation of 10,000 pounds of drugs and 100 firearms, according to the proclamation.

Abbott, who cited the Texas Disaster Act of 1975 for his authority to issue the proclamation, ordered, “[T]o the extent that the enforcement of any state statute or administrative rule regarding contracting or procurement would impede any state agency’s emergency response that is necessary to protect life or property threatened by this declared disaster, I hereby authorize the suspension of such statutes and rules for the duration of this declared disaster.”

Rep. Bryan Slaton (R-Royse City), who repeatedly sought during the regular legislative session to advance proposals to finish construction of former President Trump’s border wall project, lauded Abbott’s move but expressed regret that the governor did not do it sooner.

“I am glad he did it. I just wish he would have done it while we were in session and we could have done something to help,” Slaton wrote in a text message to The Texan. “Like build the wall and send the invoice to DC. This has been a terrible situation long before he declared it.”

Republican Don Huffines, a former state senator running against Abbott, has been among Abbott’s most outgoing critics for his handling of the border crisis. Huffines recently touted the endorsement of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, who called Abbott a “fraud.”

Chad Prather is also running for governor in the Republican primary.

Update: This story has been updated with a statement from Rep. Bryan Slaton.

A copy of Abbott’s disaster declaration can be found below.


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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."