Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that he is enlisting a "border czar" to expedite construction of the Texas border wall and support immigration enforcement in the state.
Mike Banks, who recently retired from the Border Patrol, was appointed by Abbott to collaborate with the Texas National Guard, state troopers, and the Texas Facilities Commission to "accelerate the building of the border wall in Texas," the Texas Tribune reported.
Abbott said Banks, a 20-year veteran of the Border Patrol, "is the perfect choice to oversee Texas' fight against the surge of illegal immigration, lethal drugs, and deadly weapons flowing into our state and nation."
Banks said he intends to "make the state of Texas the least desirable place for illegal immigration to cross. I don't think it's going to be that difficult. . . . We just need to be more aggressive," according to the publication.
At a press briefing Monday, Abbott said he established the border-czar role because the border catastrophe "requires a leader whose only focus is responding" to the Biden administration's ineptitude on the issue. Abbott called out the administration's negligence in preventing the unprecedented influx of illegal immigrants over the last year, claiming it's been "missing in action."
"Combating illegal immigration in Texas is a full-time job," he added.
Abbott said the state is continuing border-wall construction, which has cost $25 million per mile, his office estimated. Since President Biden assumed office, Abbott has taken actions to counteract the administration's lax border policies.
In March 2021, under Operation Lone Star, Abbott deployed hundreds of National Guard soldiers and state troopers to border counties to combat the rise in illegal immigration. That May, Abbott issued a disaster declaration covering 48 counties mostly along or near the border. It directed the Department of Public Safety to "use available resources to enforce all applicable federal and state laws to prevent the criminal activity along the border, including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking, and to assist Texas counties in their efforts to address those criminal activities."
"For nearly two years, the State of Texas has taken unprecedented, historic action under Operation Lone Star in response to the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border," Abbott said Monday. "To continue doing what no other state in the history of our country has done to secure the border, I hired Mike Banks as the State of Texas' first-ever Border Czar."
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