Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced $250 million in initial funding for a state-constructed border wall, as his Florida counterpart Ron DeSantis dispatches law enforcement personnel to assist border patrols in Texas and Arizona.
The moves announced on Wednesday signal that Republican governors are increasingly taking the surge in illegal border crossings into their own hands, as they accuse the Biden administration of dereliction.
It follows new federal data showing that illegal crossings hit a 20-year high in May, when 180,034 migrants were detained at the southern border, the vast majority of them adults traveling alone.
'The Biden Administration has abandoned its responsibilities to secure the border and Texans are suffering as a result,' Abbott said in a statement. 'The problems along the border are only getting worse due to President Biden's inaction.'
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced $250 million in initial funding for a state-constructed border wall, tapping the Department of Criminal Justice for the funds
It signals that Republican governors are increasingly taking the surge in illegal border crossings into their own hands. Above, Brazilian migrants claim asylum in Arizona
Illegal crossings hit a 20-year high in May, when 180,034 migrants were detained at the southern border
Abbott's directive on Wednesday orders the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to transfer $250 million in funding to be used as a 'down payment' on the state's wall construction.
The initial funds will be used to hire a program manager and contractors to launch construction, the governor's office said.
Texas is also soliciting donations from the public through a new website dedicated to the state's border wall push.
After former President Donald Trump vowed to build a 'virtually impenetrable' wall along the 2,000-mile border, his administration built about 450 miles of border wall, though only about 52 miles were in areas where no barrier previously existed.
President Joe Biden suspended construction of the wall upon taking office, and last week diverted the remaining $2 billion in federal funding devoted to the project, effectively ending the effort.
'In the Biden Administration's absence, Texas is stepping up to get the job done by building the border wall,' Abbott said on Wednesday.
'Through this comprehensive public safety effort, we will secure the border, slow the influx of unlawful immigrants, and restore order in our border communities,' he added.
Migrants disembark an inflatable raft after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Roma, Texas last week
Florida Govern Ron DeSantis said Wednesday that he is sending state and local law enforcement personnel to assist border patrols in Texas and Arizona
Abbott and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, another Republican, have both declared states of emergency at their states' borders with Mexico, saying the situation has spun dangerously out of control.
Last week, both governors signed a joint appeal to all other states under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, urgently requesting governors send 'all available law enforcement resources' to the border.
Florida Governor DeSantis responded to the appeal on Wednesday, announcing at a press conference in Pensacola that he will send state police and deputies from nine counties to Texas and Arizona.
'Governors Abbott and Ducey recently sent out a call for help to every state in the nation, needing additional law enforcement manpower and other resources to aid with border security,' DeSantis said in a statement.
'I'm proud to announce today that the state of Florida is answering the call. Florida has your back,' he added.
Migrants from Brazil pass through a gap in the border wall to reach the United States after crossing from Mexico to Yuma, Arizona last week
U.S. Border Patrol agents observe the body of a person covered in a white sheet near the border wall in El Paso, Texas on Friday
In announcing the move, DeSantis cited a disturbing spike in cross-border drug trafficking and human smuggling.
This year through April, the Texas Department of Public Safety said it had seized nearly 95 pounds of fentanyl in Texas, enough for 21.5 million lethal doses of the deadly opioid.
It represented a 760 percent spike from the same period last year, when the Texas agency seized only 11 pounds of fentanyl.
'America's border security crisis impacts every state and every American,' DeSantis said.
'The Biden Administration ended policies implemented by President Trump that were curbing illegal immigration, securing our border, and keeping Americans safe,' added the governor, who is considered likely to seek the Republican nomination for president in 2024.
Migrants from Brazil wait to be processed by U.S. Border Patrol agents after passing through a gap in the border wall from Mexico in Arizona on Thursday
On Tuesday, Trump announced he will be visiting the southern border with Abbott on June 30.
Trump released a statement saying he had accepted Abbott's invitation and tore into the Biden-Harris administration for dismantling 'the strongest, safest, and most secure border in U.S. history' under his administration.
Biden issued an executive order on his first day in office that paused wall construction, saying "a massive wall that spans the entire southern border is not a serious policy solution."
Biden's order was the first in a series of moves to undo many of the Trump administration's policies curtailing unlawful immigration, which the Biden administration called cruel and inhumane.
Vice President Kamal Harris, Biden's 'border czar', last week completed a tour of Central America and Mexico, saying she wanted to investigate the root causes of migration. So far she has refused to visit the border itself.