Republican lawmakers are trying to authorize an additional $1.5 billion in taxpayer spending to help build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Abbott requested the money as part of his special session call as the state continues to deal with an increasing number of unlawful migrants entering the country, per the Houston Chronicle.
In response to Abbott’s request, Rep. Jacey Jetton (R-Richmond) filed a bill that would create $1.5 billion of funding for “the construction, operation, and maintenance of border barrier infrastructure.”
The state is currently unable to use eminent domain to install the border wall on private land, which has led to the building process stalling out during negotiations with landowners.
Jetton said the state has had more success than usual at negotiating these land rights recently, which is “really what fueled the request from the governor’s office” for additional funds.
“What we’re finding is, where the border wall is being built, illegal crossings are then shifted to other areas, and those landowners are also then wanting to ensure that they have the border wall,” he said, per the Houston Chronicle.
Rep. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) has already expressed his support for the bill, joining Jetton as an author.
Abbott first began building the wall in 2021 in Starr County after obtaining roughly $1.05 billion in funding.
The funding was meant to supply somewhere between 31 and 183 miles of wall construction, based on construction contracts that ranged between $6 million and $34 million per mile, according to The Texas Tribune.
Despite the expectation that the initial funding would supply at least 31 miles, there have just been an estimated 11 miles built at this point, per the Houston Chronicle.
Texas determined before construction that over half of the 1,254-mile Texas-Mexico border would require a wall to help deter unlawful migrants from crossing.
Sarah Hicks, Abbott’s budget director, previously said, “DPS has identified up to 733 miles of border where some kind of barrier may be necessary,” according to The Dallas Morning News.
Since then, Abbott has continued criticizing the Biden administration’s alleged lack of action at the border.
On Tuesday, Abbott posted on social media, “President Biden’s open border policies put Texans at risk.”
“Texas will not sit idly by while this crisis worsens,” he added. “I called another special session for [the Texas Legislature] to criminalize illegal entry and authorize all licensed law enforcement to remove immigrants who enter Texas illegally.”
On Wednesday, Abbott posted a video of the border wall being built, declaring, “Texas is the first — and ONLY – state in U.S. history to build our own border wall.”
Texas is the first – and ONLY – state in U.S. history to build our own border wall. pic.twitter.com/5O4PWBw2JB
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) October 18, 2023