The state of Texas launched border wall construction along its border with Mexico, marking the first step in building a barrier to prevent noncitizens from illegally crossing into the United States.
“Building the wall in Texas has officially begun,” Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon, adding that construction was going on “as we speak.”
“There are state agencies talking to landowners on the border about putting up fencing on their private land to be able to prevent the dramatic influx that these landowners have been suffering from over the past few months,” Abbott said. “Anybody who comes through or around or near that barrier is subject to being arrested for aggravated trespass and because these counties are subject to a disaster declaration, the penalties for trespass have been enhanced so that they are at a minimum, a Class B misdemeanor or potentially a Class A misdemeanor, which means they could spend a long time behind jail for violating the trespass laws of Texas.”
The temporary barriers will later be replaced by taller, stronger barriers. The 450 miles of border wall installed under the Trump administration was slatted steel planks stretching 18 to 30 feet high.
In May, more than 180,000 people attempted to cross the border illegally or were denied entry at land ports of entry, the highest number in at least 21 years. Federal border authorities in Texas encountered more illegal immigrants, including families and unaccompanied children, than their counterparts in Arizona, California, or New Mexico.
“We are being invaded. That term has been used in the past, but it’s never been more true,” said Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. “We’re on pace to apprehend nearly 2 million people this year, compared to [400,000] to 500,000 in the past. For everyone we catch, we don’t know how many we don’t catch.”
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