AUSTIN, Texas (NewsNation Now) — Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state will allocate $250 million for his proposed border wall on the southern border between Texas and Mexico.
He asked private citizens to help pay for the rest of the wall through a donation website set up by the state. The Texas Division of Emergency Management will be in charge of upkeeping it, according to Abbott’s office.
“Texas is stepping up and doing more than any state ever has done to respond to the crisis at the border,” said Abbott.
Abbott along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Speaker Dade Phelan, Sen. Jane Nelson and Rep. Greg Bonnen signed a letter Wednesday during the press conference allowing a transfer of $250 million to launch border wall construction and to pay for a program manager and contractors.
“This funding is a down payment to begin design and construction of physical barriers on voluntarily donated private and public lands that border this state and Mexico,” the letter reads.
The $250 million will come out of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s allocations for fiscal year 2023 and go to the disaster funds for fiscal year 2022, according to the letter.
“State leadership will identify funding to ensure that the functions of TDCJ are not impacted by this transfer,” the letter reads.
The state budget also allocates $1.1 billion toward border security, according to Abbott’s office.
Abbott also signed another letter Wednesday directing the Texas Facilities Commission to hire a project manager to oversee construction. This program manager will be in charge of hiring contractors and subcontractors as needed, according to Abbott’s office. Contractors and the program manager will also work together to pinpoint the state land needed and land that private owners and local governments can offer up for the wall.
Abbott spoke from the Texas Capitol building and elaborated on comments he made on the podcast “Ruthless,” saying he plans to ask for donations to help fund the border wall project started by former President Donald Trump.
Additionally, on Wednesday, Abbott signed a letter to President Joe Biden asking his administration to return federal land that would have been used to build the border wall in the past.
“The federal government used condemnation powers to take property from Texans for the purpose of building a border wall,” the letter reads. “Once you took office, however, your Administration made clear the federal government will not move forward with building the border wall at this time.”
Biden had previously suspended funding for the border wall. He also recently announced federal funds allocated for the wall, an estimated $2 billion, will go back to the Pentagon for other projects.
Abbott first announced plans for the wall during a June 10 meeting in Del Rio, and during that meeting, he also said the state will pledge $1 billion toward border security initiatives. He said he plans to form a task force on border and homeland security that will meet every two weeks to discuss ways to secure the border.
Abbott said during the meeting he wants to “work with local officials to arrest anyone who enters our state illegally and is found trespassing against them,” and that there needs to be more jail space available because “we will be arresting a lot more people in the future,” he said.
The $25 million wall proposal is different than what he told county judges in Del Rio according to NewsNation affiliate the Border Report.
Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez, whose South Texas county has been the site of a massive influx of migrants since the Biden administration took office, said Abbott never called it a “border wall” during their 30-minute meeting at the Del Rio Civic Center. Rather, he repeatedly called it a “fence,” Cortez said.
“He said it would be smart for us then to place a fence all throughout our border because the only way they can cross is through the fence. So if they damage or do anything like that, well here’s the act, here’s the wrongful act. ‘So we’re going to put a fence on all the border,’” Cortez said.
Those comments came after he told FOX News’ Sean Hannity that he wanted to “arrest everybody coming across the border.”
This is a developing story. Check back soon for updates