HOUSTON – One month ago, Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans to build a border wall that would be funded, at least partially, through donations. After filing a Texas Public Information Act request, KPRC 2 Investigates recently received a list of initial donors to this project.
“I understand wanting a better life, but what’s happening now is unsafe and our border counties are stretched to the limit,” one $500 donor told KPRC 2 and asked their name not be used. “The Governor is doing the best he can because this is not a positive for our country.”
According to state records, the border wall fund received $430,581.10 in donations from Jun 16 through June 22. Records show 70% of those donations came during the first two days of the Governor’s announcement and 90% of the donations were $100 or less. The largest single donation was $5,000 and lowest the was $1. The database only provides the first and last names of donors, except for a $1 donor who listed their name as “Stop Wasting Taxpayer Money.”
Abbott took $250 million from the TDCJ budget to provide the initial funding for this project. KPRC 2 has requested an updated list of donors.
The long-term plans for Texas’ border wall remain unclear. The Texas Facilities Commission has no timetable as to when it will complete the request for proposal needed to hire a project manager. Abbott said the project manager will determine the full scope and cost of a wall.
“I think that’s it’s really more about politics than anything,” said Dr. Michael Adams, interim chair of the political science department at Texas Southern University.
Adams said while Abbott has long been critical of the federal government’s handling of the border, he believes calls for a border wall are more about elections. He points to Abbott and President Donald Trump’s recent visit to the border.
“I think clearly that you can read between the lines and see that the politics is there given the fact that the governor was endorsed by Donald Trump and clearly it’s an effort to play up to that conservative base,” said Adams.
Sheriffs in rural counties disagree and say a wall is needed.
“This is slave trade. This is not immigration, and this is not something that should be taking place in our nation,” said Goliad County Sheriff Roy Boyd.
Boyd, and several other Texas sheriffs, said their resources are getting overwhelmed by the increased number of immigrants being smuggled through their counties. Boyd also said property owners are fed up with repairing damage caused by those trekking across their land.
“We can’t allow this to continue on, our property owners are being deprived of the right to enjoy the property that they’ve lawfully earned,” said Boyd.
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Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been a frequent critic of how President Joe Biden’s administration is handling the situation on the border.
“We have the highest level of illegal immigration in over 20 years. Last year, we had the lowest rate of illegal immigration in 45 years,” Cruz said.
After Cruz made that statement, KPRC 2 analyzed 20 year’s worth of apprehension data from Customs and Border Protection. In the fiscal year 2021, 897,213 immigrants have been apprehended along our southern border or deemed inadmissible to the US. Customs and Border Protection’s fiscal year begins in October. CPB has yet to release apprehension numbers for the month of June.
According to CBP data, the last time apprehension numbers were this high was in the early 2000s. Given the current rate of apprehensions, the US will easily surpass the 1 million mark before the end of the fiscal year. The last time CBP logged more than 1 million apprehensions along the southern border was in 2006.
Last fiscal year the total number of apprehensions along the southern border was 400,651. However, that was not the first time numbers were that low. According to CBP data, yearly apprehension totals for the southwest border were near or below this level in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Customs and Border Protection announced it hit a 46-year low in December 2017. When referring to the fiscal year which encompassed the last three months of President Barack Obama’s administration and the first nine months of President Donald Trump’s administration.
Some state lawmakers are also proposing new laws in response to the situation on the border. State Rep. Bryan Slaton, (R) District 2, proposes sending trespassing laws to add a provision that would make it a third-degree felony for those in the country illegally.