Greg Abbott is widely thought to be mulling a 2024 presidential campaign in the event that Donald Trump does not or cannot run himself
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott has announced an aggressive effort to barricade his state’s stretch of the US-Mexico border against people migrating north – a strategy that includes shipping containers and razor wire.
In an interview with Newsmax, a hardcore right-wing outlet that focuses much of its coverage on immigration, Mr Abbott was asked what he was doing in response to the news of a growing caravan of people moving through southern Mexico towards the US border.
The governor laid out his plans in uncompromising style. “We’re adding thousands upon thousands of national guard, as well as the Texas Department of Public Safety, to secure the border, and as we speak now, they are barricading the border using different strategies.
“They are laying miles of razor wire upon razor wire. This afternoon, they will be dropping down some of these large containers that you see on 18-wheelers, the same type of containers you see on ships. We will be using them to blockade the border.”
“In addition,” he said, “Texas is building its own border wall, and we expect to have some of that up as early as within the next two months.”
Mr Abbott also said that Texas would be arresting people who are “trespassing” in the state and “putting them in jail as opposed to Biden’s catch-and-release program”. Complaining that the Biden administration is “not enforcing the law”, he complained that “we see the consequences of Biden being the president” and that “we need a change in the administration because this is devastating to the United States”.
The Biden administration has been under sustained criticism from the right over its immigration policies, which Republicans claim have allowed people from Latin America and countries such as Haiti to enter the US in numbers that have driven up Covid-19 case numbers (a false claim) while threatening to irrevocably change the demographics of the country in ways that negatively affect white Americans (a well-established racist conspiracy theory).
Mr Abbott, who discussed the measures with host Eric Bolling, has made fierce opposition to illegal immigration a signature issue as he raises his national profile as a Republican leader, potentially laying the groundwork for a 2024 presidential campaign.
He hosted Donald Trump at the border with Mexico in June, and also began a crowdfunding effort to fund construction of the former president’s mooted border wall-cum-fence after Joe Biden withdrew federal funding for its construction. In September, Mr Abbott signed a bill that tripled the state’s border security budget, in the process allocating $750m to the fence-building effort.