The Dolph Briscoe Unit, a state prison in Southern Texas, was recently emptied of over 1,000 prisoners to make room for migrants facing, but not convicted of, state charges. The empty prison is currently being staffed by nearly 150 guards, despite Texas’ prison system being dangerously understaffed. Texas Governor Gregg Abbott has not made much clear in terms of when or how the facility will be fashioned into a migrant jail, and the prison is currently in a state of “maintenance mode” while officers become trained as jailers and state agencies what changes need to be made in order to house a non-prison population. This project seems to be a part of Abbott’s larger push to address what he has deemed a migration crisis, seeking alternative detention possibilities outside of federal jurisdiction.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state will be making plans to build its own wall along its border with Mexico, in light of President Biden’s plans to pull back on border wall construction. Currently, the state has an initial $250 million in funds for this project. Abbott also stated plans to build more jails along the southern border to hold detained migrants on trespassing charges. The governor has revealed little other information regarding how long the wall would be, where it would be built, or how much the entire project would cost. Federal lawmakers have said that border wall construction in Texas had cost about $26.5 million per mile, and in some areas along the border up to $46 million per mile.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a disaster declaration along Texas’ border with Mexico in response to the ongoing migration surge, authorizing all available state resources to assist state and local law enforcement in border security processes. Abbott is a harsh critic of the Biden administration’s approach to border policy.