Immigration

Greg Abbott's Building a Border Wall, and Joe Biden Might Be Building Some Border Wall

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ramped up a row with the Biden administration over a spike in migrant arrivals
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has ramped up a row with the Biden administration over a spike in migrant arrivals U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Before President Joe Biden ousted Donald Trump in November 2020, he famously promised his administration would not build “another foot” of the border wall. But Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has other plans (to build a wall). And apparently, Biden also has other plans (to build some more wall).

This week, Abbott debuted a section of the border wall in Starr County, a whopping 900 feet’s worth. The Republican governor announced his plans to finish Trump’s wall as part of a large-scale effort to crack down on the number of migrants crossing the frontier.

“We’re going to spend as much as it takes to build as much wall as we possibly can,” Abbott said, as reported by the Texas Tribune. The governor has reportedly set aside $1 billion for the barrier, but details are still murky, the Tribune added. Those funds are mostly taxpayer cash, but some of it comes from private donations.

Meanwhile, President Biden paused the border wall, axed contracts with builders and started giving back land to private owners early on during his presidency.

But this week, the Department of Defense announced that it would be embarking on a big construction project on the U.S.-Mexico border. To that end, the department will reinforce some parts of the Trump wall and close “small gaps that remain open from prior construction activities and remediating incomplete gates.”

"We’re going to spend as much as it takes to build as much wall as we possibly can." - Gov. Greg Abbott

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The gaps to be filled in are in areas including San Diego, El Centro, Yuma, Tucson, El Paso and Del Rio. The administration says they will not build any new sections of the wall, however.

In other words, the Biden administration will be building “another foot” — or several — of border wall. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense denied that it was building additional wall on the border after activists sounded the alarm over new construction in the Rio Grande Valley.

But hey, maybe filling in gaps in an existing border wall doesn’t mean the same thing as building more wall in the Biden administration’s eyes. Who knows?

In the meantime, Gov. Abbott says more than 730 miles of the Texas-Mexico border could need a barrier, the Tribune added. To get that done, property owners — most of the Texas borderlands are privately owned — will have to decide if they care more about their property rights or the long shot that a wall will actually keep anyone out.

For Abbott’s sake, he better hope they’re willing to give up land. Otherwise, how would the governor keep out all the South Africans who aren’t, in fact, crossing the border? (Of course, apprehensions on the border are spiking, but the uptick started when Trump was still president.) 
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Patrick Strickland is the news editor at the Dallas Observer. He's a former senior reporter at Al Jazeera English and has reported for the New York Review of Books, The Guardian, Politico EU and The New Republic, among others.