Texas restarts Trump’s pet project

Texas has begun building a wall on its border with Mexico, picking up where former President Donald Trump left off with a stated goal to stop trafficking of drugs and illegal aliens through its territory.

Governor Greg Abbott announced the start of construction on Saturday, saying crews are already putting up more than 100 yards of wall – made with the same 30-foot steel poles the Trump administration was using – each day. He noted that the state had made “unprecedented” progress in pushing forward with building work just six months after he announced the project.

“We have wasted no time in the six months since that promise was made . . .,” Abbott said. “Today not only represents the first phase of the Texas border wall, but it also serves as a major milestone in our efforts to combat illegal immigration, stop the smuggling of drugs and people, and keep our communities safe.”

The wall is part of a $3 billion initiative that Abbott launched in June to address the effects of a US immigration crisis on Texas, where about two-thirds of illegal crossings at the southern border occur. Like other Republican governors, he has blamed President Joe Biden’s “open border” policies for record migrant traffic.

“Never before has a state of the United States of America had to step up and build its own border wall,” said Abbott, who also has deployed state troopers and Texas National Guard soldiers to help deter illegal immigration. 

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In addition to using the same building materials chosen by the Trump administration, Texas is employing some of the same crews. Abbott said progress is even faster than under the previous federal effort because Texas owns much of the land along its 1,254-mile border with Mexico. Private landowners have donated about 100 miles of right-of-way for the project, he added.

The state also might be in position to procure materials at bargain prices. The Biden administration is in the process of canceling wall construction contracts, meanwhile paying contractors millions of dollars a day to guard the steel, concrete and other materials that they had set aside near the border. In some cases, piles of steel poles have reportedly been abandoned.

Apprehensions of illegal border crossers nearly quadrupled in the federal government’s last fiscal year, which ended on September 31, to 1.73 million, according to US Customs and Border Patrol figures. The Biden administration has projected that more than 2 million apprehensions will be recorded in calendar 2021.

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