Gov. Abbott issues disaster declaration along Texas’ southern border

Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to the Senate at the Capitol on Jan. 12, 2021.
Gov. Greg Abbott speaks to the Senate at the Capitol on Jan. 12, 2021. (Austin American-Statesman)

HOUSTON – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration Tuesday along Texas’ southern border in response to the border crises.

Abbott’s office said in a news release that the move “provides more resources and strategies to combat the ongoing influx of unlawful immigrants.”

Here are the main points of the declaration, as described by the governor’s office:

  • The governor’s office said it is authorizing the use of “all necessary and available state and local resources to protect landowners in these counties from trespassers and the damage they cause to private property.”
  • The governor has also directed the Texas Department of Public Safety to enforce all federal and state criminal laws, including criminal trespassing, smuggling, and human trafficking.
  • The governor directed the Texas Health and Human Services Commission to take all necessary steps to discontinue state licensure of any child care facility under a contract with the federal government that shelters or detains unlawful immigrants.
  • The governor directed the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to work with Texas counties to provide appropriate guidance and request any necessary waivers in order to give counties the flexibility needed to establish adequate alternative detention facilities or otherwise add or expand capacity. The governor also directed these agencies to streamline procedures for licensing and transfers, and to address any staffing issues that may arise in expanding capacity.

“President Biden’s open-border policies have paved the way for dangerous gangs and cartels, human traffickers, and deadly drugs like fentanyl to pour into our communities,” Abbott is quoted as saying in a news release. “Meanwhile, landowners along the border are seeing their property damaged and vandalized on a daily basis while the Biden administration does nothing to protect them. Texas continues to step up to confront the border crisis in the federal government’s absence, but more must be done. By declaring a state of disaster in these counties, Texas will have more resources and strategies at our disposal to protect landowners and enforce all federal and state laws to combat criminal activities stemming from the border crisis. Working together with local law enforcement, the state will continue to take robust and meaningful action to keep our communities safe.”

Read the governor’s full disaster declaration document.


About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.