Governor Greg Abbott admits he does not know what the eventual cost of the project will be but has committed a quarter of a billion dollars to start with.
“Building the wall in Texas has officially begun,” Mr Abbott announced on Wednesday as he signed a pledge for the wall along the southern border with Mexico.
Mr Abbott, who is running for re-election next year, claimed that an increase in crime and drugs coming into the state was behind the move, which he described as “a “down payment for the beginning of a border wall.”
“In just the first four months of this year, just the Texas Department of Public Safety had an 800 per cent increase in the amount of fentanyl they had apprehended,” said Mr Abbott.
”They apprehended enough fentanyl to kill more than 21 million Americans.”
The wall was a central promise during Mr Trump’s 2016 election campaign, but the one -term president was unable to fulfil his repeated promise to get Mexico to pay for it.
Joe Biden cancelled the wall project as soon as he entered the White House.
The governor said that the state will need to find a project manager to work out where the wall should be built and how long it would be, get a cost estimate and hire contractors.
Due to Biden's open border policies, I just announced Texas' plan to continue securing the border & build the wall.
➡️ Down payment of $250M
➡️ Hire project manager & contractors
➡️ Begin construction
➡️ Demand Biden return TX land to TX
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 16, 2021
The cash is being diverted from the correctional security budget of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which manages offenders in state and private prisons.
“In the federal government’s absence, Texas is stepping up to get the wall done. We will build the wall, we will secure the border, but most importantly, we will restore safety,” he added.
And he called on Texans to send the state donations to pay for the wall.
“I’m focused on the humanitarian crisis that Texans are suffering through. Texans on the border are suffering a humanitarian crisis by having their lives disrupted with guns and gangs and being riddled with crime,” Mr Abbott said.
The governor said that the DPS plans to increase border arrests and jail space, and work with land owners to put up temporary fencing.
Mr Trump has already backed Mr Abbott’s campaign to be re-elected as governor in 2022.