Can Texans Afford Gov. Greg Abbott’s Border Wall? (includes video)

The construction of a massive wall along the southern border of the United States became a symbol of the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce immigration. Now, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has decided to continue the former President’s legacy at a state level.

“Texas is stepping up to get the job done,” Abbott explained at a press conference.We will build the wall, we will secure the border, but most importantly, we will restore safety to the citizens who live in the Lone Star State.”

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In May 2021, the number of migrants crossing the southern border of the United States was the highest in two decades. U.S. Customs and Border Protection made more than 700,000 arrests in the first five months of this year. 

In early July, Customs and Border Protection reached a total of 1 million immigrants stopped at the border for the year. The last time this figure was recorded on the border between the United States and Mexico was in 2006, and that number — and it was not reached until December of that year.

This crisis on the border has led the governor of Texas to issue a disaster declaration, where one of his strategies to combat the influx of immigrants is the construction of a wall.

That raises the question: How feasible is the construction of the border wall between Texas and Mexico? And what do Texans living along the border think about the construction of the barrier?

In Texas, the Mexico border is nearly 1,200 miles long. Only 111 miles are fenced. 

For construction of the new wall, Abbott invested $250 million in state funds as an initial deposit. However, the Rio Grande river, which makes up part of the border, includes several curves and uneven territory, so it is unknown how many miles of barrier will be needed.

According to CBP, more than 452 miles were created during the Trump administration. However, most of that was replacement of existing structures, while only 80 miles of new wall were built.

It is worth mentioning that the Trump administration financed the construction of the wall with federal money. That won’t be happening in Texas.

In order to build the border wall, Abbott is turning to crowd-funding.

Through a website and mail-in donations, just three days after soliciting donations, Abbott received nearly $350,000.  According to the Texas Tribune, by July 14, donations reached $829,000.

With a budget of $15 billion, the Trump administration expected to build a total of 738 miles. That is roughly equivalent to a cost of $20 million per mile.

Using that as a standard and considering the funds that Abbott has raised thus far, then in Texas only about 12 miles could be built.

“Why… why invest in concrete and iron bars when we need more services in the community? We need a dam to move the water, because we don’t have a good water system. We don’t have public transportation in our communities. Not to mention the street lighting on the corners,” mentioned Ramona Casas, a Texas resident and member of the ARISE organization. “There is a lot of need.”

At a community meeting in Hidalgo County, not far from the border, several community leaders spoke out against the construction of the new border fence.

“We do not want walls, […] it is the hatred they have for us, migrants,” said Zareth García, a member of the organization La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE).

One of the first things Joe Biden did when he became president was to stop construction of several miles of the border wall that had been previously approved.

“The Biden border crisis is getting worse and worse every day”, commented Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at a press conference. “No state in the Union is paying a bigger price for the Biden border crisis than our home state of Texas.”

“Texans are suffering as a result,” Abbott explained.

Today, more than ever, the border between the United States and Mexico is politicized. The promise of a wall is now a key element in a candidate’s campaign. 

In the case of Greg Abbott, it is still unknown when the construction of the border wall will begin, where and what the design will be. However, we do know that he will be running for re-election in 2022.

Caplin News Reporter

From chasing breaking news to finding characters for features, Jacqueline Mata is committed to telling stories that inspire and educate viewers about their communities and their neighbors. Jacqueline prides herself on gaining exclusive access and persuading people to tell those stories they wouldn't normally share.  She is currently the Immigration and Border Correspondent for Caplin News in El Paso, Texas. Outside of reporting, Jacqueline finds joy in helping others and for the past 13 years has been an active volunteer for the City of El Paso, El Paso Parks and Recreation Dept., and several non-profit organizations.