On Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) appointed a recently retired Border Patrol agent as the state's new "border czar," the Texas Tribune reported.
Michael Banks, who retired from Border Patrol this month after more than 20 years on the job, was appointed by Abbott to "tap his expertise to deploy strategies that reduce illegal immigration and keep our community safe."
According to Banks, his top priority "is to make the state of Texas the least desirable place for illegal immigration to cross. I don't think it's going to be that difficult. ... We just need to be more aggressive."
During his Monday announcement, Abbott explained that he created the new border czar position because the immigration crisis "requires a leader whose only focus is responding" to the Biden administration's failing policies.
The Texas governor accused the president's administration of being "missing in action on the border." He noted that "combating illegal immigration in Texas is a full-time job."
"For nearly two years, the State of Texas has taken unprecedented, historic action under Operation Lone Star in response to the Biden Administration's refusal to secure the border," Abbott stated. "To continue doing what no other state in the history of our country has done to secure the border, I hired Mike Banks as the State of Texas' first-ever Border Czar."
Abbott explained that Banks "is the perfect choice to oversee Texas' fight against the surge of illegal immigration, lethal drugs, and deadly weapons flowing into our state and nation."
Banks, who will report directly to Abbott, will partner with the Texas National Guard, state troopers, and the Texas Facilities Commission to secure agreements with landowners to close gaps in the U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Abbott stated that Texas is paying $25 million per mile to finish constructing the wall.
El Paso remains the busiest border crossing in the country. According to Customs and Border Protection reporting, within the first three months of fiscal year 2023, 162,603 migrants were encountered at the El Paso border, a 232% increase from the same period the previous year.
In total, there were more than 717,000 migrant encounters at the southern border from October through December 2022. Of those encounters, nearly 480,000 were single adults, 200,000 were family units, and 37,000 were single minors.
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