McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection urging the Biden administration to quickly build a border wall in Laredo, Texas, and the surrounding South Texas region and to renounce environmental considerations .
“A border barrier is critical to protecting Texans. The crisis on Texas’ southern border continues,” said the 12-page letter Paxton sent Monday to CBP headquarters in Washington, DC will.”
Paxton cited DHS estimates that migrant encounters at the Southwest border this fiscal year could exceed the number of the past two decades.
CBP this week released meeting numbers for May that set a new monthly record.
Across the country, border officials encountered migrants 273,309 times in May, up 4 percent from April’s 261,780 encounters. March and April were both record months for encounters with migrants.
Paxton also cited thousands of pounds of illegal drugs, such as fentanyl, also seized at the border by authorities. CBP data released this week shows the quantity of narcotics seized in May was among the lowest in the past four years, slightly higher than March, December 2021 and September 2021.
“The resulting surge in illicit drugs flowing across the border has unleashed an opioid epidemic in the United States with dire, if predictable, consequences,” the letter said.
The CDC estimates that about 108,000 Americans will die from drug overdoses in 2021, Paxton wrote, saying drugs are a bigger threat than guns.
“This is the number one killer of Americans ages 18 to 45. Not deaths from COVID-19. No deaths from gun violence. Illegal drug overdose. And building a border barrier can save American lives by significantly reducing the availability of illegal drugs in the United States. However, the border remains open and the construction of border barriers is tied up with bureaucratic papers, showing once again the Biden administration’s refusal to implement sensible border security measures that would save American lives,” Paxton wrote.
CBP data also shows that most drug seizures are made at points of entry. In fiscal year 2022, which began last October, 85 percent of drugs were seized at ports of entry.
The Biden administration is currently investigating possible environmental impacts that a border wall could have on Laredo, as well as Webb and Zapata counties on the South Texas border.
Some leaders have openly criticized this process for intentionally slowing down any new construction.
The Biden administration has halted construction of new border walls but cannot reclaim funds already approved by Congress for the border wall.
Laredo has been one of the most united communities in South Texas against building new border walls and has successfully managed to prevent any construction since the plans were first announced during the Trump administration.
Currently, the community is working with leaders from its sister city south of the Rio Grande, Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, seeking funding and permits for a massive bi-national river park to be built on the banks of both sides of the river.
A binational working group traveled to Washington, DC last month and met with lawmakers to promote the $500 million project.
But if a border wall is built, it would scuttle all park plans because a barrier would block paths and views of the Rio Grande, border wall opponents have said Border Report.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com