FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) - With the stroke of a pen, Governor Greg Abbott has agreed to have Texas spend nearly $2 billion on border security.
The governor signed the bill into law Friday, Sept. 17, in Fort Worth because of the effort Fort Worth police officers made in getting it passed.
They were concerned about the opioids crossing the border and making their way into North Texas.
The head of the Fort Worth Police Officer's Association says drug trafficking is the most important reason for more border security.
"I recognize that criminal activity that pours across the border doesn't just stop at the border," said Manny Ramirez of the Fort Worth Police Officer's Association. "That activity permeates every single community. Five years ago we might've had zero cases of fentanyl and today you're talking 70 to 80 year to date."
Gov. Abbott was surrounded by Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and State Sen. Jane Nelson when he officially made House Bill 9 law in Texas.
It allocates $1.88 billion to border security, which is nearly triple the state's spending previously.
All of the elected leaders who spoke here today insisted that there is an unprecedented surge of migrants illegally crossing the border over the past year as many as 500,000.
As much as half the border security money would go to a wall which would cover more than 700 miles.
Governor Abbott defended the use of state money for what some believe the federal government should pay for.
"These funds will help the Texas Department of Public Safety arrest more people at the border," Gov. Abbott said. "They will help the National Guard to secure the Texas border. They will increase funding to build the border wall."
Governor Abbott criticized the Biden administration for not allocating the money for border security he says Texas needs to keep people safe.
CBS 11's J.D. Miles asked the governor what he would say to Texans who would rather see the money spent on other expensive needs, including improvements to the state's electric grid.
He's said it's been addressed and that border security is more important.
"They winterized the grid," said Gov. Abbott. "They insured the integrity of the grid so that it wouldn't go down like I did this last time. As your own local police officer put it, public safety is essential to everybody in this state."
Despite this legislation that conservatives support, Gov. Abbott is getting criticism from a primary opponent who said his actions don't go far enough.
Republican candidate for governor Don Huffines issued the following statement after the bill signing:
"Texans can't afford to have a coward like Greg Abbott in the governor's office while illegal aliens invade and flood our state. Texans can't afford a governor who surrenders rather than take steps to safeguard the lives, liberties, and properties of the citizens he was elected to serve.
"Texans deserve a governor who won't ask for permission from the federal government to secure the border. When I am governor, I will act immediately to engage the Texas Military, DPS, and other necessary personnel to secure the border, finish the wall, and shut down the ports of entry to commercial traffic until Mexico works as a good neighbor to combat the cartels and prevent illegal crossings."
Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa issued a statement as well:
"Right now, Greg Abbott's approval ratings are the lowest they've ever been, with a majority of Texans -- 59 percent -- saying they don't approve of our governor's policies. Abbott's failures are catching up with him, and he's terrified that we will vote him out of office in just over a year. So he's doing what he always does: trying to distract from his massive failures by pointing the finger at immigrants and drumming up fear around our borders.
"The thing is, it won't work. Abbott has not done one single thing to make life better for Texans, and people across our state know it. This is a democracy, and when you attack the people you were elected to serve, you should expect to be voted out. Texans deserve strong leaders who will put people first -- not Abbott's fear-mongering, anti-Texan policies. And from now until next November, Texas Democrats will be doing everything in our power to bring an end to Abbott's reign of terror, and elect Democrats who will fight for a better Texas for all of us."
J.D. Miles contributed to this report.
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