More than 123 landowners near the U.S.-Mexico border will allow the state of Texas to erect temporary fencing on their properties to help combat President Joe Biden’s ongoing illegal immigrant crisis.
According to the Washington Examiner on Thursday, 123 people agreed to let an 8-foot-tall, barbed-wire metal fence be built at the edge of their land, a senior advisor to Gov. Greg Abbott told the outlet. At least 80 people, most of whom own land in Val Verde County, have already signed agreements with Texas’ military department, which is directing the project.
The private land makes up one most vulnerable areas of the southern border, referred to as the Del Rio region by border authorities. The remote region has one of the highest totals of illegal immigration nationwide, with nearly 150,000 arrests between February and July.
The government’s request to build fencing stems from a growing number of landowners who sought help from elected officials amid the worsening border crisis. Abbott spokeswoman Renae Eze said the landowners are not being compensated or incentivized for their cooperation, noting that “the incentive is securing their land and our southern border.”
Texas has already identified 733 miles of land along the border on which it can start building fencing, and the state’s National Guard will execute the project.
One Abbott official said finding land for border barriers has been difficult in the past, but the recent push by private landowners to have the government secure the border has sped up the process.
“We don’t even have to ask about eminent domain because we have state land and we have lots of people saying, ‘Come here and help me,’” the Abbott administration official said.
Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe said his deputies on duty every shift struggle to keep up with the calls reporting human smuggling. Coe said law enforcement personnel have gone from dealing with illegal immigrants once a weekend to nearly five incidents each day.
“We had our ups and downs,” Coe said in a phone call Tuesday. “But over the past year, it’s gone through the roof.”
On Thursday, Gov. Abbott reversed course after announcing he was shutting down six points of entry along the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to stop the flow of illegal immigrants “from overrunning our state.” The governor said he was acting on a federal government request and blamed President Biden for the flip-flop.
“Six hours after U.S. Customs and Border Protection requested help from Texas to close ports of entry and secure the border, the Biden Administration has now flip-flopped to a different strategy that abandons border security and instead makes it easier for people to cross illegally and for cartels to exploit the border,” Abbott’s office said in a statement, according to Fox News. “The Biden Administration is in complete disarray and is handling the border crisis as badly as the evacuation from Afghanistan.”