Texas Says It Will Build the Wall, And Will Use The State And Crowdsourcing To Fund It (Transcript Included)…
Thank you everybody for joining with us today. Obviously, we’re here to talk about the border. I want to thank everybody who is up here with me today. We got the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Greg Bonnen. And we have the speaker of the house state feeling. We have the Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, and the Chair of Senate Finance Jane Nelson. As well as members of both the Texas House and Senate who gather with us for this announcement.
Let me start by saying this. And that is, the problems that people are suffering on the border just continue to get worse. And their getting worse for the residents who live in that region, they’re getting worse for people in all regions across the entire state of Texas. If you just look at the numbers, they paint the picture.
Look at the number of people who were apprehended coming across the border last April, when President Trump was president. They apprehended just over 17,000 people coming across the border last year. This year, in the month of April, they apprehended more than 170,000 people. That is a 1000% increase in the number of people apprehended coming across the border year over year. Similar numbers were echoed in the month of May.
Also, the type of people coming across the border is changing. Early on it was unaccompanied minors, now a majority of the people coming across the border are adults coming across alone. Also, what is changing is, the carnage that is being caused by the people who are coming across the border. Fences of ranchers along the border are being completely decimating, causing border ranchers to lose their livestock, or border farmers to lose their crops.
Homes are being invaded. Neighborhoods are dangerous and people are being threatened on a daily basis with guns, of people either coming across the border or those working with those who are coming across the border. Cartels, human and drug smugglers, and human traffickers they’re all profiting off of our open border crisis. They’re making money off the people that have come in from more than 150 different countries across the entire globe.
Anybody who tells you this is people coming across from Mexico or from the Northern triangle, they’re missing the point about the massive consequence of all the countries that come across all the entire globe that people are coming from. And they will either fly in or somehow get into Mexico or get into South America and make their way up to come across the border into Texas and into other states.
And make no mistake, the border crisis that we’re dealing with right now is a direct result of the open border policies that have been put into place by the Biden administration. Remember that, the border was far more under control under the Trump administration until President Biden came in and removed the Remain in Mexico policy. And he’s about to remove, according to his administration, the Title 42 policy. And obviously, they are now not making any effort whatsoever to construct a wall. In fact, they are abandoning finishing the wall along the border.
But the biggest difference between the two administrations is a difference in commitment. There was a commitment by the prior administration to actually enforce the immigration laws that were passed by the United States Congress. Make no mistake, the current administration is refusing to enforce the laws concerning immigration that are on the books, passed by the United States Congress.
Well, in response to the Federal government’s neglect of all of the people who live along the border and the other people who live inland, who are facing the consequences because of the spread of drugs like fentanyl, Texas is stepping up and doing more than any other state ever has done to respond to these challenges along the border. Because of these leaders that you see at this table right now, as well as the members behind them, they just passed a budget adding more than a billion dollars dedicated to border security in the State of Texas, for Texas to do the Federal government’s job.
These are Texas taxpayer dollars that Texans should not have to be paying for because the Federal government has a legal responsibility under the Federal Immigration laws to do it. But because they are not doing it, Texas taxpayers are having to step up, so that we as a State can protect our citizens.
In addition to that, in March of this year, because the Biden administration was abandoning its responsibility, I launched Operation Lone Star. That included the deployment of 1000 Texas Department of Public Safety officers, it included the deployment of the National Guard. And they have been making arrests, they’ve made over 1500 arrests already. They’ve already apprehended more than 35,000 people coming across the border illegally.
But it’s clear that this Operation Lone Star, as prolific as the results have been, it’s clear that more is needed. And the people who made that clear are the counties on the border. Because what the counters on the border did, they sent me a disaster declaration that the counties made requesting that the governor of Texas make a disaster declaration for the counties on the border.
Now, the governor makes disaster declarations when we have hurricanes come in, sometimes when tornadoes occur, sometimes when floods may occur. I am unaware of a governor ever declaring a disaster at county requests because of the tidal wave of illegal immigrants coming across the border, wrecking havoc in communities and residents who live here in Texas.
And since I went down to Del Rio last week, what I talked to sheriffs and county judges at that time about was to issue a second disaster declaration for which there are more than two dozen counties who already want to be a part of it, even though the new disaster declaration has not even been issued yet. But it’s going to concentrate on making arrests on the border of people who are coming across.
So the Department of Public Safety will work with local officials to arrest anybody who enters our state illegally for violations such as trespass, for vandalism, for criminal mischief, for struggling. Speaking of which, the people that you’re looking at up here right now, the members of the Texas House and Texas Senate, they passed a new smuggling law that makes it easier for prosecutors to be able to prosecute smuggling in the State of Texas. I applaud them for passing that. And the prosecutors in the region were urging and begging for it so that they would be able to prosecute these smugglers.
You will see that there is going to be a lot more people put into jail. People who are crossing the border illegally and trespassing, or people who are engaging in the smuggling process or drug smuggling process or any of these crimes that are occurring anywhere. But we wanted to make sure they had the tools and the resources they need to be able to put those people in jail. But that does mean that more jail space will be needed, and to help accommodate that the Texas Commission on Jail Standards is working with counties to be able to expand jail space. To enhance…
Before I go there, let me say this… I want to applaud and thank fellow states across America. When I was in Del Rio, I had an announcement that night about how myself as well as the Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, we entered into a multi-state compact, we triggered a multi-state compact that responds to emergencies and disasters. And we ask governors of other states to join in with us, to help address the disaster that we’re facing.
And there have been a number of states that have already offered support or working where their office about support. And they include our neighbors, Oklahoma and Arkansas. It stretches up to North Dakota and South Dakota and includes Iowa and Florida and already Georgia and South Carolina have sent their National Guard to the Texas border, and we appreciate all of them as well as others that I may be unaware of yet, because this is happening as we speak right now. But for every state stepping up, just know that the people of the State of Texas, your fellow Americans, appreciate you stepping up.
I’ll add this, for all the states that are stepping up to help Texas, you’re helping your own residents. If nothing else, by helping to prevent or reduce the amount of fentanyl that is coming into the United States. Let me give you some quick numbers that are very important. In just the first four months of this year, just the Texas Department of Public Safety had an 800% increase in the amount of fentanyl that they had apprehended coming across the border. In just the first four months of this year, just the Texas-
… first four months of this year, just the Texas Department of Public Safety, they apprehended enough fentanyl to kill more than 21 million Americans. That fentanyl goes to states across the entire country. Every state helping out Texas, you are helping your own citizens and residents in your state from dealing with this deadly drug coming to neighborhoods near you. Well, the ability for us to be able to arrest people coming across the border is going to be enhanced by Texas building border barriers. Some of those barriers are being built immediately, and that includes things like fencing.
That is taking place as we speak during this press conference right now. As we speak, there are state agencies talking to landowners on the border about putting up fencing on their private land to be able to prevent the dramatic influx that these landowners have been suffering from over the past few months. These immediate barriers are truly just a stopgap effort to slow the incredible inflow of migrants into Texas. But they do create what are considered to be no trespass zones that can lead to the arrest of trespassers.
When there is a barrier up, it will have on it do not trespass signs. Anybody who comes through, around, or near that barrier, is subject to being arrested for aggravated trespass. And because these counties are subject to a disaster declaration, the penalties for that trespass have been enhanced so that they are at a minimum a Class B misdemeanor, or potentially a Class A misdemeanor, which means they could spend a long time behind jail for violating the trespass laws of Texas.
But listen, we know that temporary barriers and fences won’t be enough to slow the flow of the record amount of illegal immigration that’s taking place. That’s why today we are announcing that Texas will build a border wall in our state to help secure our border. Here’s how the process is going to begin and how it will be structured. We start by hiring a program manager. This is going to be a large-scale construction project that needs a program manager to oversee it. The program manager in turn will hire contractors and subcontractors to complete the project.
I can add this, and that is, to speed the process as well as to lower the cost of the project, the project manager can look to land that’s already owned either by the State of Texas, or owned by the local governments, or owned by private citizens who want to volunteer that land for locations where a border wall can be placed. My belief based upon conversations that I’ve already had, is that the combination of state land as well as volunteer land will yield hundreds of miles to build a border wall in Texas. The program manager and the contractors, once they get to work, they will be able to provide us with a more accurate estimate of what the cost will look like going forward.
To get all of this going we need to hire the program manager, and that process begins right now. I am signing a letter that is from me directed to the Executive Director of the Texas Facilities Commission. It says, in just a couple sentences of it, it says, “As the state agency in charge of procuring, building, and managing state-owned property, your work is central to building projects in our state. I hereby direct the Texas Facilities Commission to hire a program manager to oversee construction of a Texas border wall. A program manager will lead the process of planning and scoping the project and hiring the contractors and subcontractors needed to build the wall.” Building the wall in Texas has officially begun. Next is funding. The letter that we are about to sign provides $250 million to be allocated as a down payment to begin the border wall. That’s a quarter of a billion dollars, and it’s more than enough to hire the project manager, and the contractors, and to begin building the wall. And we are committed to adding more resources as needed going forward. Let me start with you all down here. Let me see. [inaudible], and keep the pen.
One more thing, I [inaudible].
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick:
Oh. Do you think it matters?
Yes. This program is officially funded in the State of Texas. Today I am also sending a letter to President Biden. His administration is refusing to finish the border wall on land that the federal government took from our fellow Texans. I am demanding that the Biden Administration immediately return to Texans land that the federal government took to build the wall. Texas will talk to those property owners about Texas using that land to build the wall. President Biden, return Texas land to Texas. Now, I know for a fact that many Texans and many Americans want to get involved in this process. Many have already sent checks to the State of Texas for this purpose, and many more have a desire to do so, and we want to give them an opportunity to donate.
One place they can donate to is at this sign right here. If you look at this, this provides a donation site, as well as a site where you can find out more information about what the process is about building the border wall. Go to borderwall.texas.gov, and front and center is going to be a red icon you can click on for the purpose of donating. Again, that is borderwall.texas.gov. If you want to send a check by mail, like we’ve already received, we have an address designated for that. Send it to Texas Border Wall, P.O. Box 13226, Austin, Texas 78711. That’s Texas Border Wall, P.O. Box 13226, Austin, Texas 78711. I know the media will be very interested on the transparency and accountability of this money. Know that it’s going to be overseen by two agencies.
One is the Texas Division of Emergency Management. The other is the Office of the Governor. We expect full transparency and accountability so the public will know all the money coming in and how that money is being used. The bottom line is this. The Biden Administration has abandoned its responsibility to apply federal law to secure the border and to enforce the immigration laws, and Texans are suffering as a consequence of that neglect by the Biden Administration. In the federal government’s absence, Texas is stepping up to get the job done. 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. Now I’m going to turn it over to the Lieutenant Governor.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick:
Governor, thank you for your leadership. I believe that this is the most consequential letter, and document, and resolution, signed by any governor in modern history. This document will go down as one of the most important documents in the history of Texas. Because it’s reclaiming our land, our border, our country, our state, for the people of Texas and America.
Our country, our state for the people of Texas in America, we are being invaded. That term has been used in the past, but it’s never been more true. We’re on pace to apprehend nearly two million people this year, compared to 400,000 to 500,000 in the past. For every one we catch, we don’t know how many we don’t catch. But if it’s two to one or three to one, that means this year two to three million people could be coming into Texas and into America.
The questions are never asked by anyone on the left or in the administration of what happens to these people. What do you do with a 14 year-old boy from Central America, doesn’t speak English, who’s three grade levels behind? What does he do when he comes to America? They just let him go free. You can’t put a 14 year-old in the fifth grade class.
What is his future? Crime, low wages, no future? What happens in our healthcare system, our emergency rooms? What’s the reality of the people coming? The criminals that are filling up MS-13 and other gangs in the state and all across the country, making them more powerful. The drugs that are coming in. This is a fight for our survival.
Since the governor and I were elected in 2014, along with our finance chair Jane Nelson, Governor, the total is now, with this current budget, Texas taxpayers will have spent 4.4 billion dollars. That’s 4.4, just since 2015, doing the work that the federal government should be doing. They have left us no choice.
President Trump was getting the border under control. Had we had four more years with him, we would be in total control of this border. But all of the protocols that he set in place, the wall that he was building that now President Biden is no longer funding are sending us in the opposite direction. President Biden has made the choice that he’s letting the drug cartels take control of this country instead of the rule of law.
Texans will get this done. We will get this done. We have no choice to get it done. We will not let our state and our country be invaded. We will not let it happen. And Governor, thank you. Thank you for taking the lead on this.
Thank you. Now, Speaker Dade Phelan.
Speaker Dade Phelan:
And Governor, I want to thank you as well for your leadership and your ingenuity in finding a Texas solution to a Washington DC problem. But that’s what it’s come to, and I appreciate your leadership. This a legal crisis. This is a security crisis. This is a humanitarian crisis. These are children and families being smuggled across the border. These are drug cartels bringing in weapons. They end up on the streets of not just Texas, but this entire country.
And I speak for the vast majority of the Texas House, a bipartisan group that feels like enough’s enough. And we’ve come to the point now where we have to think outside the box. And that’s what the governor has done with this initiative.
And to that end, in the coming days, I will be handing out a list of interim charges to House committees, Homeland Security, and Public Safety, appropriations, public health, human services, education, criminal jurisprudence, corrections.
How has this surge impacted our border communities and communities beyond? Because it’s vast and it is widespread. And we need to do all we can for our border communities. They’re asking for help. They’re seeking assistance from the state of Texas. And that’s why we’re here today.
And in those hearings, we’re going to hear from county judges and from mayors, sheriffs, and police chiefs, and healthcare professionals, educators, district attorneys. We want to hear their stories, because they’re not getting the attention they need from Washington DC.
A letter was sent out today from Democratic congressman begging for the administration to come down and hear the stories of his community. So in the Texas House, we’re going to hear those stories. I hear there’s a special session coming soon. I don’t know when, but we’re going to start having those hearings when we reconvene here in Austin.
I want to thank the governor again for his leadership, his ingenuity, and the fact that he’s prioritized accountability, transparency, and private property rights of Texans with this new border security plan. Thank you for having me.
Thank you. Now, I’ll close with this and then take a few questions. To the people who live in border regions, you’ve been begging for help. You’ve been demanding a response. You’ve pled with urgency to be protected, to be supported, to be heard, to have a response. I told you that Texas would step up and respond. Today, we begin that response. We’ll take a few questions. Yes?
Speaker 2:[crosstalk] The state of Florida has announced that it’s going to deploy some officers in the state of Texas. Governor DeSantis announced that happening today and sometime earlier this week. How is that going work out? And can you explain how these officers are going to deployed at the border along with Texas National Guard state?
First, I think Florida and the other states who were stepping up to assist, with regard to the officers they will send, it will depend upon which type of officers they send. They could send officers who would be engaged in the rests. I know requests have also been sent out for additional jailers.
I didn’t mention this detail. I’ll apply it to your question. I mentioned in my remarks, we need more jail beds. The Texas Jail Commission has found about 8,000 jail beds. They need staff to staff those jail beds, as well as others that may come open. So some states may send officers who may be involved in jails. Others could be officers involved in making the arrests. It will depend on who they send, and they will work with various different agencies. It could be with the Texas Jail Commission, it could be with local officials, or it could be the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Governor Abbott, [crosstalk]. Is it coming from the budget? Is it coming from the budget?
So we have the budget experts who are prepared to answer that question. And I will let them answer that question.
Hold on. There’s people. Tell you what. I’ll cut you a deal. I’m going to make sure you get to ask a question today.
Yeah. It’s as is outlined in the letter that we have just signed. You’ll see that the initial down payment of 250 million dollars is going to be transferred into a disaster account. And then it will be then moved to the Facilities Commission for this purpose, for this project.
It is an appropriation.
Actually, these funds have already been appropriated. And so this is an allocation of funds that have already been appropriated.
I can help him. I can [crosstalk].
Senator Nelson will answer it.
Yes. When the governor issues a disaster declaration, the legislative budget board has the authority under article nine, section 14.04. My staff’s around somewhere. They’re shaking their head yes. To allow for the LBB can make a transfer under that section, and we will do that under [crosstalk] request. We can make that request at any time.
Governor, how [crosstalk]?
Hold on a second. This … I promised this guy I’d come back to him.
That’s all right [crosstalk].
Several members have been. I’m Cadence Burke with The Texan. Several members of the Texas legislature, coauthored legislation to fund the state border wall. What would you say to Texans who are curious as to why it’s a priority now, as opposed to the regular session?
And also, what is the state doing to defend the border [inaudible]?
Sure. First, you got to understand the multiple steps that Texas has taken. As the lieutenant governor made clear, beginning in 2015, under my administration, in collaboration with the lieutenant governor and the other office holders at that time, Texas began to step up and allocate money to secure the border. That strategy was lessened to some extent over the past four years when we had President Trump in office, who did more than anybody has ever done to secure the border, including adding personnel, working in collaboration with the state of Texas, but also beginning the process of building the wall to remain in Mexico policy, the title 42 policy, et cetera.
And as a result of President Trump’s efforts, it led to a dramatic decrease in the amount of people coming across the border. As I pointed out in my remarks earlier, in the second full month of the Biden administration, which was in the month of March, in response to the Biden administration’s lack of commitment to secure the border, we launched Operation Lone Star.
This is a strategy that we have used in the past of flooding the border with law enforcement officials and National Guard that has yielded positive results. And in fact, this time, that yielded positive results also. As I pointed out, it led to the arrest 1,500 criminals, as well as to the apprehension and more than 35,000 people who came across the border.
However, it was after that that it was determined that we could continue adding more arresting people to the border, but it wasn’t going to yield the same results that it had in the past for one reason. And that’s because we had been turning them over to federal officials-
That’s because we had been turning them over to federal officials, who would then release them, and that’s just not going to work. And that’s when we had to begin to come up with new strategies that would be effective, which includes this immediate fencing, which includes the border wall, which includes the new arrest policy. The point of this new arrest policy, they’re being arrested for state law violations, not federal law violations, which means we don’t have to turn them over to the federal government. We turn them over to a jail cell.
Governor Abbott, [crosstalk] about the cost.
Some of the residents are living in south Texas. You mentioned some of the residents, speaking with them, they’re obviously concerned about immigration, the crisis along the border. However, a lot of residents in Texas are concerned about the power grid, for example, amid other issues facing Texans. Critics will say that this is political theater, and that there’s no reality of finishing the border wall that Trump started. How do you respond to those critics?
Well, I mean, do you want me to answer the power grid question? You’ve got multiple aspects to go there.
I’d love for you to answer both, actually.
So both. Power grid, and what’s the other one?
And how do you respond to people who say that this is more of a political ploy than actual reality?
Okay. So, anyone who thinks this is politics doesn’t have a clue what’s going on at the border. Anyone who thinks this is politics doesn’t care about American citizens or Texas residents. Anyone who thinks this is politics doesn’t care about the lives of people who had a gun stuck to their head by someone who came across the border. Doesn’t care about their kids who have been harmed. Doesn’t care about the homes that have been invaded. Doesn’t care about the danger these people live with every single day. It’s our job to keep these people safe, not allow them to continue to be subjected to harm. We care about our fellow Texans and their safety, and this is providing safety for our fellow Texans. I realize candidly there are some who do not care about safety, and those are the very same people who want to defund police, and we together also passed a law to make sure that cities in Texas would not be able to defund police. We believe in the rule of law and law and order in this state, and by God, we’re going to step up and deliver that rule of law and law and order in the state of Texas.
With regard to the power grid, I’ll tell you this: Everyone who’s been trying to make a big deal out of the power grid over the past two days, I have found were the exact same people who called me a neanderthal after I opened up Texas 100%. They were hoping there would be a power failure. Understand what happened over the last two days, which a lot of people really don’t know. That is, there was a conservation notice sent out by Ercot. Anybody who lives in the state of Texas knows that water conservation notices are sent out every summer, because in summer heat you should not be using your water sprinkler during the time of day, because it’s not efficient.
All Ercot was doing was saying that because repairs were being made to power generators that amounted to 9,000 megawatts of power, there was going to be less power available than there had been before, and that meant you needed to engage in a level of conservation. What that meant is for four hours in high demand, which I think it was from 3:00 P.M. to 7:00 P.M., if possible, you should try to reduce your usage of power during that time. During the other 20 hours of the day, it didn’t matter.
And then the corollary of that is that even though I’ve already signed all of the power grid laws, it takes a while for them to go into full effect. It takes a while for them to be fully implemented. So we have seen basically zero implementation, but we did see one component of it implemented. One demand made by the legislature, but also a demand made by the public, was greater communication by Ercot, to let people know what was going on. This was an example of that greater communication to let people know what was going on. Not that there was a power emergency. If you go into the Ercot database, if you go to their website, if you go to their app, which I use on my phone, you will see there are different energy emergency alerts. That is when power is really thin.
We didn’t enter into an energy emergency alert. It was just a conserve power, if you can, so that we’ll make it through the couple of days that we need it as those repairs were made. Which, we have made it through those couple of days now, and candidly, coming out is good news in this regard. To those 9,000 megawatts of power generators that were being repaired, they got the repairs done now, before the real heat of summer hits, and they should be prepared to go through the summer fully capable of meeting demands. The bottom line is, as we have said before, if you look at all the laws… Not just, what was it? Was it SB two and three?
They were both SBs. I couldn’t remember if one was an HB. But if you look at the bills we signed… But not just those. There were, what? About 10?
A number of [crosstalk].
There’s a lot of bills they signed concerning the energy grid in the state of Texas, and I can tell you for a fact that as we’re sitting here today, the energy grid in Texas is better today than it’s ever been.
… Taking this kind of action?
Say it again?
How long will the wall be? How many miles, and how long will it take to [crosstalk]?
Yeah. Perfect question. Everyone needs to know. How many miles will it be? How long will it be? How long will it take? Those are answers that we need engineers and architects and the contractors to give us the answers to. That’s why we had to kick off this process to trigger the hiring of a program manager, so the program manager can hire the contractors. It will be that team that they will, among other things, go talk to all these property owners and find out where they can build the wall. And the cost of it will depend upon the location where it is, and what materials exist, what the material cost is at that particular time, and what the design will be. And so, those are the types of questions that go to engineers, and then based upon the cost assessments that they are able to generate, Texas will make decisions about which components of the wall are the first ones to be built.
A few more questions. A few more questions.
Speaker 13:[crosstalk] million dollar down payment, on a project that we don’t know how much it’s going to cost?
Say it again?
What do you say to people who say, “Well, we just put down a $250 million down payment on a project that we don’t even know what it’s going to cost.”
Right. We know it’s going to cost far more than $250 million, and as opposed to putting down a $2.5 billion or a $25 billion cost figure, we’re smart enough to hire the experts to go do their job to determine what the cost is, before a fuller allocation of money is [inaudible]. I did tell you it’s my commitment, as well as the commitment of the people in this room, as well as the people in this capitol, to make sure that we see this project through.
Last question. Last question.
Speaker 14:[crosstalk] immigration [crosstalk]-
You talk about the crime and the border barrier aspect of this, but I’d like to ask about the humanitarian aspect of this. [inaudible] what in your plan professes help for people who are trying to enter this country seeking a better life?
So, I will tell you this. The federal government is spending seemingly all of its resources concerning the border on the people who are trying to enter into the state of Texas. I’m focused on the humanitarian crisis that Texans are suffering through. Texans on the border are suffering through a humanitarian crisis, by having their lives disrupted with guns and gangs, and being riddled with crime. It’s Texans that we have a responsibility as leaders in this state to step up and address their humanitarian crisis, and that is what began today.
Stay Up To Date With More News Like This:
Help Centipede Nation Stay Online
Stories like these are made possible by contributions from readers like you. If everyone who enjoys our website helps fund it, we can keep our platform alive and expand our coverage further.