AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) —Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday afternoon a “new, water-based barrier of buoys” will be installed at the Texas border soon.
Abbott made the announcement after signing several border security-related bills that passed during the 88th Legislative Session. Abbott said the installation of the buoys will start “immediately.”
“These buoys will allow us to prevent people from even getting to the border,” Abbott said.
Col. Steven McCraw, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, said the deployment of the first 1,000 feet of buoys will start in Maverick County’s Eagle Pass. McCraw added the buoys can be deployed quickly and are movable.
Images of the concept were displayed on each side of the table where Abbott, McCraw and Major General Thomas Suelzer, the Adjutant General of Texas, were sitting for the press conference. One image showed someone attempting to get over the barriers.
“The bottom line is [Texas] Border Patrol is already working on this. This was something that border patrol had already looked at, designed and even tested,” McCraw said.
Abbott was accompanied by McCraw, Suelzer, bill authors and sponsors, as well as other legislators and law enforcement officers.
While several bills the governor signed fall under his broader priorities of ongoing border security efforts, the keynote legislation he called for during his State of the State address did not pass. The main border security proposal Abbott had mentioned was creating a “mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least 10 years for anyone caught smuggling illegal immigrants in Texas.”
Differences between the House and Senate versions of the smuggling bill were not worked out in the regular session. Now, it’s one of Abbott’s central calls for the first special session.
What bills did Abbott sign?
Abbott signed six bills related to border security and training.
Senate Bill 1900 designates Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. There are higher penalties for criminal activity by a foreign terrorist under state law, Abbott said.
Senate Bill 1484 authorizes training for local law enforcement on cartel-related activity, the governor said. Texas DPS would be required to “identify ways that local law enforcement can help DPS to secure the border,” Abbott added.
Senate Bill 423 gives the Texas military department full authority to use drones at the border.
Senate Bill 1403 “authorizes the governor to execute an interstate compact for border security among interested states that does not require approval of Congress. The compact must provide for joint action among contracting states including sharing law enforcement intelligence on illegal activity occurring at the border, sharing state resources to build a physical barrier and technological surveillance system and sharing other law enforcement resources,” Abbott said.
Senate Bill 1133 compensates landowners if they “suffered property damage on agricultural land, as a result of a… border crime of smuggling a person, evading arrest, human trafficking, or a drug offense,” Abbott said. Ranchers can be compensated up to $75,000 per incident.
Senate Bill 602 gives Border Patrol agents the ability to arrest and search and seizure for any felony offense under Texas law, Abbott said.