- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2021

If President Biden won’t build a border wall, then Texas will.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that his state will erect border barriers in easy-crossing areas along the Rio Grande, and then start arresting and jailing illegal immigrants on state charges.

“The influx across the border is out of control, and the Biden Administration has shown that is not going to step up and do its job,” Mr. Abbott told Breitbart Texas shortly before a border summit Thursday in Del Rio.

The state plans mass arrests and more jails to back that up and send a message to illegal immigrants, the governor said.

“What people have seen in videos across the country seems to be the Biden Administration welcoming these people to the United States. We won’t be sending that message,” the governor said. “If you come to Texas, you’re subject to being arrested. You’re not going to have a pathway to roam the country. You’re going to have a pathway directly into a jail cell.”

Mr. Abbott, who declared a state of emergency earlier this month, told Breitbart Texas that, apart from the physical deterrence of the barriers, they will provide a legal basis to arrest people independently of federal immigration law.

A 2010 Supreme Court case involving an Arizona law limits what states can do in the field of immigration. They cannot make illegal presence itself a crime, though state police-power laws were upheld.

“If they (migrants) move or interfere with that barrier, they have committed several crimes,” Mr. Abbott said, explaining that such crimes include criminal mischief, criminal trespass, and vandalism of state or local-government property.

The state’s emergency declaration also potentially raises the punishments for these crimes by one classification.

“Something that may be a Class B misdemeanor right now, turned into a class A misdemeanor,” he said. “That means up to 180 days in jail.”

The governor also added that “there’s even potential for state jail felonies for some of these crimes.”

Mr. Abbott noted that the Del Rio sector of the border has seen massive increases in illegal border crossings, something that he noted used to be “concentrated in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Del Rio region residents are “seeing a lot of very bad dangerous people come across the border,” Mr. Abbott continued. “They need help from the state to help them address this exploding crisis.”

“Amidst reports of even more people coming in across the border, we know we have to step up and do more,” he said.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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