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Texas Land Commissioner Authorizes Border Wall on State-Owned Land

November 30, 2021 by Reece Nations
Texas Land Commissioner Authorizes Border Wall on State-Owned Land
A map showing the planned location of a border wall along a farm tract owned by the Texas General Land Office in Starr County, Texas. (Texas Land Commission)

WESLACO, Texas — Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush announced a lease agreement on Monday between the General Land Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety authorizing border wall construction along a tract of farmland owned by the office on a parcel of the border near the state’s southernmost tip.

In a Texas GLO press release announcing the agreement, the office said the move was the latest step from Bush to diminish the influx of immigrants following Gov. Greg Abbott’s emergency declaration to complete the Texas border wall. Abbott has renewed his disaster declaration every month since first enacting it in May.

“Washington continues to ignore the Biden Administration’s border crisis, leaving Texans no choice but to take matters into our own hands,” Bush said in a written statement. “Lease revenue from this land directly benefits the most important asset in Texas—our schoolchildren. As the border crisis continues to escalate, the lives of Texans are being endangered and we are at serious risk of losing revenue generated from leased lands along the Texas-Mexico border. I thank DPS for their partnership on this critical issue—working together, we will secure our border.”

Abbott’s use of disaster declarations in response to border crossings is unconventional. Governors typically reserve them for instances of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes or floods. The proclamations grant broad authority to the state’s executive to suspend certain state laws and regulations, and Abbott has also regularly reissued emergency declarations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abbott has been sounding alarm bells about reports of a caravan of thousands moving through Mexico with the intent of reaching the southern border. In a Nov. 20 interview with KTSM 9 News in El Paso, Abbott said the border wall acts as a funneling method and deterrent for migrants crossing the border.

Around 2,000 migrants and asylum seekers decamped from the Mexican city of Tapachula near the Guatemalan border late on Sunday, according to Reuters. Most of the migrants in the caravan originate from Central American countries gripped by poverty, violence and rampant hunger.

The GLO farm on which the project was approved was previously cited as a hotbed for illegal activity due to its lack of protection in a lawsuit filed by Bush against the Biden administration. Bush filed the lawsuit in July in his official capacity as commissioner of the Texas GLO in response to President Joe Biden issuing an executive order on his first day of office that halted all border wall projects.

In an email shared with The Well News, GLO press secretary Matthew Atwood clarified that the section of border wall to be constructed by the DPS is approximately two miles in length and will run along the river on the Starr County property. Further, Atwood told The Well News that the agreement grants DPS access to the property and the department will be covering the costs of the project, which is expected to begin soon.

“The Biden administration’s border crisis doesn’t just affect Texans living along the border — it’s being felt by communities throughout Texas,” Abbott said earlier this month during a roundtable discussion with local law enforcement in Midland. “With an uptick in deadly drugs like fentanyl, dangerous gang activity and human trafficking across our state, the state of Texas continues to work closely with local law enforcement to solve these challenges.” 

Reece can be reached at reece@thewellnews.com

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