AUSTIN–Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Joe Biden Sept. 20, requesting an emergency declaration for the State of Texas as a result of the escalating crisis at the Texas-Mexico border, specifically due to the dire situation in Val Verde County. The letter explains that the federal government’s failure to enforce immigration laws and in particular, its failure to halt illegal crossings on a dam on federal property, which is the sole jurisdiction of the federal government, is leading to substantial burdens on local and state resources, as well as federal resources.
“Border security is a federal responsibility, however, in response to the current situation, I have taken the appropriate action under state law by directing the execution of the state’s emergency management plan and by declaring a state of disaster May 31, for multiple Texas counties across the state’s southern border,” reads the letter. “This surge poses life-threatening risks to residents of Val Verde County and is quickly overrunning law enforcement and health care and humanitarian resources which were never intended to be used in this capacity. Even the limited federal resources in the area are strained by the large number of individuals illegally crossing into Texas. I have determined that the disaster caused from individuals unlawfully crossing the Texas-Mexico border is of such severity that supplementary federal assistance is necessary to lessen the threat of disaster, save lives and protect property, public health and safety.”
Governor Abbott made border security funding a priority for the first and second special legislative sessions. The Governor launched Operation Lone Star in early March to help secure the border and combat the smuggling of people and drugs in Texas. There are currently thousands of state personnel, including DPS troopers, agents and rangers and National Guard Soldiers who are engaged in the mission and working with local law enforcement. The Governor expanded the mission shortly after its launch to include anti-human trafficking efforts. Governor Abbott’s plan to secure the border also includes the construction of a border wall, in addition to the use of strategic fencing and other barriers. A project manager for the initial stage of building the wall was announced Sept. 16. The Governor signed HB 9 Sept. 17, which appropriated $1.8 billion to Texas border security efforts. Among other things, the funding will add more National Guard and additional resources to better secure the border.