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Abbott tells ‘Border Security Summit’ he will build a Texas wall

DEL RIO, Texas -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday afternoon held what he billed as a "Border Security Summit" with a group of Texas sheriffs, police chiefs, county judges and mayors.

At the event, Abbott said he would soon unveil plans to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall in Texas, although he did not provide details on the cost or location. He also reiterated that state troopers will start jailing people crossing the border illegally on trespassing charges.

"I will announce next week the plan for the state of Texas to begin building the border wall in the state of Texas," Abbott told the gathering, as he also blasted federal lawmakers for inaction on immigration issues.

“The border crisis is no laughing matter,” Abbott added. "It's not a tourism site for members of Congress to visit and then return to D.C. and do nothing. Change is needed to fix the border crisis."

The governor said he held the summit to allow local leaders to hear from state officials on action being taken by the state of Texas to "secure the southern border and address the ongoing humanitarian crisis."

However, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego told ABC-7 he was not personally invited to the event. El Paso is home to the busiest ports of entry in the state of Texas.

"When I heard about the summit, personally I wasn't invited through my email," Samaniego said. "But right now we did a search and it looks like there was an email that went in to the general box, but it wasn't directed to me."

Samaniego reacted to the governor's proposals by questioning whether Abbott really has a sense of the border situation in El Paso, which is some "600 miles away" from the state capitol. The judge also pointed out that conditions in El Paso are different than those in Del Rio, where the border summit was held.

Abbott told those who attended the summit that his effort to jail migrants would require the cooperation of local mayors, law enforcement, prosecutors and judges and that arresting more people will require more jail space, something he says he plans to work on with county officials to achieve.

The governor said he would be naming a task force on homeland security consisting of representatives of multiple state agencies who would meet every couple of weeks with county officials in border communities.

Abbott told the summit crowd that he would issue a new disaster declaration next week to create an enhanced security plan, noting that he had approved a billion dollar allocation in the state budget for border security.

Abbott also spoke of the prior disaster declaration he had issued last week, which directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to take “all necessary steps” to discontinue the state licensure of “any child care facility that shelters or detains unlawful immigrants” under a contract with the federal government.

The Biden administration has threatened to take legal action against the state of Texas if Abbott doesn't rescind that order. The deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently sent a letter to Abbott, warning the governor not to interfere with federal immigration operations.

You can watch Abbott's entire border summit remarks in the video player below.

Article Topic Follows: Texas Politics

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Jim Parker

Jim Parker is the former Director of Digital Content for ABC-7.

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Rachel Phillips is the weekend sports anchor and reporter.


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