Texas counties to send COVID-19 relief money to assist border security and wall construction

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Southeast counties in Texas are allocating COVID relief funds for border security assistance as Border Patrol continues to see a record number of illegal crossings. 

Galveston County Judge Mark Henry signed a three-page disaster declaration on Tuesday, which directs more than $6 million for border wall construction, first reported local news outlet ABC 13. 

The directive will use funds issued to the county through the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion initiative signed by President Biden to assist with the lasting effects of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The declaration also orders local law enforcement to send deputies to assist border security officials.

“We have seen an increase in violent and organized crime,” Henry said according to the Texas-based outlet. “We had a federal task force down here a few weeks ago serving warrants. We have seen an increased flow of drugs. We have had drugs wash up on the beach in Galveston County.”

The Galveston county judge did not provide information tying the increase in illegal immigrant arrivals to the increase in violent crime.

“This is a crisis that impacts all of Texas,” Henry said. “It’s not just Galveston County. My main focus is Galveston County, but I call on every other city, and county in the state of Texas. You’re all going to feel the effects of this.”

Other southern border county officials issued similar directives, including Montgomery County, located just north of Houston, where a declaration was reportedly signed by county Judge Mark Keough Tuesday.

The move by some southern Texas counties comes one month after Gov. Greg Abbott signed a disaster declaration in response to an “ongoing surge” of illegal immigrants. 

The declaration allowed the governor to allocate available resources to local and state law enforcement in protecting Texans from “criminal activity and property damage.”

“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 said in a statement. 

“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,” he continued. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reported nearly 930,000 illegal immigrant encounters at the southern border since January.

More than 180,000 migrants were encountered in May alone.

David Aaro contributed to this report.

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