Texas to appeal FEMA denial of state’s emergency declaration over border crisis

Illegal immigration is costing Texas taxpayers billions of dollars.
Governor of Texas Greg Abbott is seen in attendance during the UFC 265 event at Toyota Center on August 07, 2021 in Houston, Texas.

Illegal immigration is costing Texas taxpayers billions of dollars. With its county governments, law enforcement and medical personnel strapped, responding to the surge of illegal immigrants flooding into Texas, county judges and the governor issued disaster declarations.

Counties first filed disaster declarations April 21, followed by the state’s disaster declaration on May 31. Texas filed a federal emergency declaration, requesting assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), specifically requesting supplemental federal assistance to respond to the exorbitant costs the state is picking up to deal with illegal border crossings into Texas.

FEMA denied the request Sept. 30. Federal disaster designation enables states to receive federal funds for a range of services as well as funding for county needs.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Texas will appeal FEMA’s denial.

Abbott requested federal aid Sept. 20, arguing that the federal government’s failure to enforce immigration laws, and failure to halt illegal crossings on federal property, the sole jurisdiction of the federal government, created substantial burdens on local and state resources. The failure of the federal government to intervene led to a surge of more than 16,000 migrants at the Del Rio International Bridge for several days, Abbott said.

"President Biden has turned his back on Texans living along the border, and FEMA's refusal to declare a federal emergency at the border puts their health, safety, and property at risk," Abbott said in a statement. "The State of Texas is appealing this detrimental decision by FEMA because the Biden Administration's refusal to solve the crisis at our border has led to a strain on local, state, and federal resources. The surge of over 16,000 migrants at the Del Rio International Bridge is just one of the most recent examples of the federal government's failure to take action.”

Border Patrol agent Jon Anfinsen, president of the national union’s Del Rio chapter, told The Washington Examiner that it was Texas state troopers (DPS) who helped hold the line under the bridge.

“Literally, we could not have any semblance of control down here without DPS,” Anfinsen said. “DPS has thankfully come out here and helped us out dramatically. We literally could not control this or have even some semblance of control without DPS, National Guard, all the other local stakeholders that are out here.”

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, estimated that state troopers outnumber federal agents at the border by 3 to 1, as well as the number of National Guardsmen and women who were on site.

"This crisis has not ended and will only get worse if the Biden Administration continues to turn a blind eye to the reality at the border,” Abbott said. “Texas will continue to step up and address this crisis in full force, but supplemental federal assistance should be granted to further protect Texans and halt the influx of drugs, people, and contraband into our state."

Funding has been possible because the Texas Legislature approved additional resources totaling $1.8 billion for border security during the summer's second special legislative session. Earlier this year, Abbott said that $1 billion went to border security efforts, including funding allocated toward Operation Lone Star, which launched March 6.

Thousands of state personnel, including DPS troopers, agents, rangers, and National Guardsmen and women have been assigned to Operation Lonestar, in addition to county sheriffs and their deputies, and state task forces focused on anti-human trafficking efforts.

The state also began plans to construct a border wall, and has already begun constructing strategic fencing and barriers on private and state property. Earlier this month, two companies were chosen to oversee the wall’s construction. All of these efforts have been funded by Texas taxpayers, Abbott notes, who shouldn’t be paying to cover costs created by the federal government.