On Friday, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced that the state had begun construction on its own fence along the US–Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley. “Texas is stepping up to do the federal government’s job,” he tweeted. It was an attempt to counter the so-called “open border policies” of the Biden administration. On Saturday, he’ll visit the site firsthand with dignitaries including state land commissioner George P. Bush.
Texas has officially started building its own border wall.
Biden allows open border policies and refuses to enforce laws passed by Congress to secure the border and enforce immigration laws.
Texas is stepping up to do the federal government’s job. https://t.co/K7CbIPs75p
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) December 17, 2021
Abbott has been building up to this moment for a while. Previous stunts have included installing shipping containers in a wall-like fashion along the river; putting up chain-link fencing; and parking lots of state vehicles next to each other in a vaguely wall-like manner. He’s deployed the national guard to the border—this week the National Butterfly Center posted footage of men in fatigues trespassing with guns in their nature preserve:
1st of 4 more videos of Texas National Guard trespassing on our property. Here, this young man appears to crouch with his gun, as if he's going to what? Shoot someone? THIS IS A NATURE CENTER, open to the public 7 days/week. We have children, hikers, joggers, bicyclists… pic.twitter.com/3fsxqaQ1RU
— National Butterfly (@NatButterflies) December 13, 2021
On one level, Abbott is preparing to spend enormous sums of money on a project that is unlikely to have much of an impact on the flow of international migration, seemingly just to be able to tell voters and television viewers that he did it. But it’s a particularly striking development given the actual state of construction projects on the southern border today.
Although President Joe Biden, as a candidate, promised that he would not add any more fencing to the border, his administration has continued to take land for border-security infrastructure. And in South Texas, activists and landowners have pointed out that Biden-era upgrades to levees along the Rio Grande look indistinguishable from Trump-era fencing. (And Obama- and Bush-era construction before it.) Nor has Biden taken down any of the existing fencing, leaving intact the ecosystem-destroying barriers; last week, a Mexican gray wolf named Mr. Goodbar walked for 23 miles along the fence in New Mexico looking for an opening, before giving up and turning back.
Throwing money at destructive projects in the name of border security is one of the most bipartisan maneuvers in American politics. But it doesn’t really make a difference to Republican politicians that we’re still living in the same old status quo; the rejoinder, as Abbott shows now, will always be to simply demand more.