Texas plans $1bn Trump-style border wall to tackle record migrant surge

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Asylum seekers wait to be taken to a processing facility in Texas after crossing the Rio Grande river on a raft to enter the United States from Mexico  - ADREES LATIF /REUTERS
Asylum seekers wait to be taken to a processing facility in Texas after crossing the Rio Grande river on a raft to enter the United States from Mexico - ADREES LATIF /REUTERS

Texas has allocated $1 billion in funding for a new border wall amid a surge in illegal migrant crossings, as its governor says the state “will not sit idly by as this crisis grows.”

More than 180,000 people were apprehended by US Customs and Border Protection in May - the most since April 2000.

Governor Greg Abbott blamed Joe Biden for the record crossings, saying: "It is out of control and a change is needed.”

A clearer plan will be revealed next week, but vowing to continue a signature Donald Trump policy, Mr Abbott said: “Some of these border barriers will be built immediately.

“While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows,” he added.

“Our efforts will only be effective if we work together to secure the border, make criminal arrests, protect landowners, rid our communities of dangerous drugs and provide Texans with the support they need and deserve.”

Migrants on the border - REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Migrants on the border - REUTERS/Adrees Latif

The move is likely to face legal challenges.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas tweeted: “To be clear, this is an attempt to distract from his governing failures while targeting vulnerable immigrants.”

Under Mr Trump, the United States spent around $15 billion on 450 miles of new border wall. The entire border is 1,933 miles long.

However, Mr Biden halted construction, cut off funding and promised "there will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration.”

The president has been struggling to get a grip on the growing crisis engulfing Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

In April 2020, just 16,000 people were arrested after crossing the border. In April 2021 it was 178,622.

Vice President Kamala Harris has been charged with addressing the multitude of issues, but has been criticised for her slow response by both Republicans and Democrats.

She has still not visited the southern border.

Instead, Ms Harris flew to Guatemala on Sunday and made a direct appeal to migrants thinking of travelling north, saying: “Do not come. Do not come.”

She then headed to Mexico, where she met with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to work on security collaboration.

"Everything Joe and Kamala have done has sent exactly the opposite message" from Harris's "do not come" remark, Republican Texas Senator Ted Cruz told Fox News on Tuesday.

"We've seen in the five months they've been in office, an absolute disaster unfolding at the border with no willingness to fix the problem," Mr Cruz added.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn described her trip as a "missed opportunity."

Ms Harris "is avoiding the point of failure in our immigration system, which is at the border," Mr Cornyn told AFP.

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