- In an attempt to pick up border wall construction where former President Donald Trump left off, a state lawmaker in Texas has introduced legislation that would see the construction of a border wall along the Texas-Mexico border.
- HB 2862 would create a special "border security enhancement fund" to pay for the projects, which includes planning, designing, constructing and maintaining transportation and water infrastructure along the Texas portion of the international border with the purpose of preventing unauthorized crossings, the trafficking of controlled substances and terrorism. The author of the proposed bill, Republican Texas House Rep. Bryan Slaton, moved to name the barrier the "President Donald J. Trump Wall," and wrote on Twitter that "it's time to finish what President Trump started! Let's build the wall!"
- Texas contractors — those incorporated in Texas or that maintain a headquarters or principal office in the state — would be given priority when it comes to project awards.
Not only would the fund pay for infrastructure but technology and commercial vehicle inspection facilities at the state's ports of entry. The bill would prohibit the clearing of indigenous plants, unless certain state and federal authorities sign off.
The bill stipulates that the governor of Texas would seek reimbursement from the federal government for amounts spent from the border projects fund. According to Customs and Border Patrol, 281 miles of border wall have been completed or are under construction or in preconstruction in Texas as of the beginning of the year.
If the bill passes, the state might have a difficult time getting reimbursement from an administration that made stopping border wall construction a priority after President Joe Biden's inauguration in January.
In fact, it was only a matter of hours after Biden was sworn in that he rescinded Trump's national emergency declaration, which the former president used to redirect Pentagon funds to border wall construction, and gave contractors seven days to stop all border wall construction, including those projects that were recipients of direct funding, not just money diverted from the military, although the order made exceptions for emergencies and other urgent circumstances.
Biden also gave the Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Department 60 days from Jan. 20 to develop a plan, in coordination with other federal agencies, as to how the government should redirect border wall funds. As part of plan development, those agencies must consider terminating or repurposing existing contracts with private contractors performing wall construction and, at the same time, make allowances for the expenditure of those congressional funds appropriated for wall construction. After the plan is complete, halted projects will be resumed, modified or terminated.