Top Texas officials penned a letter on Wednesday authorizing the transfer of $250 million as a "down payment" for the state’s border wall with Mexico.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott last week announced plans to build a wall on the southern border to help stem the influx of migrants entering the U.S., declaring “While securing the border is the federal government’s responsibility, Texas will not sit idly by as this crisis grows.”
The governor on Tuesday said he plans to solicit public donations to fund the construction of the wall.
On Wednesday, however, he and other top Texas officials penned a letter to Bryan Collier, the executive director of Texas’ Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), asking the agency to transfer $250 million in general revenue to a disaster fund in an effort to “ensure sufficient funding for Texas’ ongoing response to this crisis.”
The money will then be moved to the Texas Facilities Commission for the wall’s construction, according to local ABC-affiliate KSAT.
“Though securing the international border and protecting the life and property of its citizens surrounding that border is the duty of the federal government, the current administration has shown time and time again an unwillingness to embrace this fundamental responsibility,” the officials wrote in the letter.
“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 officials added.
The group went on to list a number of areas where they say the federal government's “failure” has taken effect: increased illegal crossings, damage to Texans’ crops and property, larger rates of human trafficking and smuggling, additional drugs and “a dangerous escalation in cartel violence.”
“These threats to our citizens cannot remain unaddressed; if the federal government refuses to face them, the State will,” the letter wrote.
Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan, and the legislature’s top budget writers, Sen. Jane Nelson (R) and Rep. Greg Bonnen (R), all signed the letter.
Abbott on Wednesday also announced that a project manager will be hired to oversee the enterprise, according to KSAT. He directed the Texas Facilities Commission to bring on a project manager, who will then begin looking into how long the wall will be, where it will be built and the total cost of the undertaking.