The promises of the new barrier come on top of plans for Texas state troopers to begin arresting border crossers and jailing them for state crimes, such as trespassing. Abbott said “homes are being invaded” along the border. Landowners are losing livestock and crops, Abbott said, because of “the carnage that is being caused by the people who are coming across the border.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection recorded more than 180,000 encounters on the Mexican border in May, the most since March 2000. But the numbers were boosted by a pandemic-related ban on seeking asylum that encouraged repeat attempts to cross because getting caught carried no legal consequences.
Nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children were picked up along the border in March, by far the highest month on record. April was second-highest and May was third-highest.
Abbott has rejected criticism that his measures are just for show.
“Anyone who thinks this is politics doesn’t have a clue what’s going on at the border,” Abbott said last week in the Texas Capitol. “Anyone who thinks this is politics doesn’t care about American citizens or Texas residents.”
Immigration has been a weak spot for Biden.
A poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in May showed that 43% of Americans approved of his handling of the issue, while 54% disapprove. Republicans across the U.S. have seized on that dissatisfaction, with even GOP governors in Idaho and Nebraska saying they, too, will send a small number of state law enforcement officers to the border.