Gov. Abbott amends disaster declaration in response to ‘border crisis’

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Texas Governor Greg Abbott prepares to deliver his State of the State speech at Visionary Fiber Technologies outside Lockhart, TX. Abbott is proposing expansion of telemedicine and increased broadband access for rural Texans among other policies. (Bob Daemmrich for Nexstar)

HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO)—Gov. Greg Abbott has revised a disaster declaration originally issued in late May for 34 southern border counties.

The update declaration only includes 28 new counties that have locally declared a disaster and have agreed to partner with the state.

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The revised list includes Brewster, Brooks, Crockett, Culberson, DeWitt, Dimmit, Edwards, Frio, Goliad, Gonzales, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Jim Hogg, Kimble, Kinney, La Salle, Lavaca, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Midland, Pecos, Presidio, Real, Terrell, Uvalde, Val Verde, and Zapata counties.

Highlighted counties are ones included in the amended declaration

“I am grateful for our local partners in our South Texas and border communities who are willing to work alongside the State to keep Texans safe and secure the border,” said Abbott. “This amended declaration will ensure that resources and support have surged where they are needed most.”

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When Gov. Abbott issued the declaration for southern border counties, including Starr, Cameron, Willacy, and Hidalgo, some local officials responded.

U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar told KVEO that he would not call the migration influx a disaster and “respectfully” disagrees with the governor.

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Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez issued a statement regarding the proclamation, in which he says that local law enforcement had not reported a level of criminal activity that would require a disaster proclamation.

I appreciate Governor Abbott’s concern for the safety of all Texans and I acknowledge that we are seeing a greater number of immigrants crossing into Texas to either seek asylum, to work, or for other purposes. Apparently, Governor Abbott has information that we don’t have. In speaking to local law enforcement, they have not reported levels of criminal activity that would require a disaster proclamation. I have repeatedly suggested to our federal government to address comprehensive immigration reform because our current laws need change to address what we want and what we don’t want.

Cortez stated that his greater concern is the continued closure of ports of entry that have a negative economic impact on the Rio Grande Valley.

The declaration will provide “more resources and strategies to combat the ongoing influx of unlawful immigrants,” according to a press release.

Abbott authorized the use of any necessary and available state and local resources to protect landowners from the damage migrants cause to private property in southern border counties.

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