Texas Gov. Greg Abbott gets a kick out of accusing asylum-seekers of being “criminals” and illegally jailing Black and brown migrants for lengthy periods while he figures out the whole charges thing later (if at all). Meanwhile, it's the contractors in his state that are making out like bandits, now closing in on nearly $900 million of border wall contracts, Texas Observer says.
RELATED STORY: Shady firm that built crumbling private border wall is awarded massive contract by Texas
To be clear, walls don’t work, especially when the barriers aren’t even at the international border because it’s the state and not the federal government that’s erecting them. But who cares about the pesky details? What matters to Abbott is that he gets to claim he’s finishing off what the insurrectionist president couldn’t, and what matters to the contractor is that it just landed a nearly $140 million contract for just 7 miles of barrier. The three brothers who own Sullivan Land Services Company are—shocker—Abbott donors to the tune of over $250,000.
“Last week, the Texas Facilities Commission approved its fifth construction contract for the project, worth $137 million, to erect nearly 7 miles of steel-bollard fencing along the border in Webb and Zapata counties,” Texas Observer said. “That’s on top of the over 9 miles that the state contracted to build in Webb earlier this month.”
That 9 miles is set to be built under a $224 million agreement that went to Fisher Sand & Gravel, the contractor that has a history of shady dealings and built the notorious privately funded section of wall that’s been on the verge of collapse. Texas Observer says Texas has now awarded $830 million in contracts for just 30 miles of barrier. If this all seems fucking expensive, you’re fucking right.
“Texas is going to pay $65+ million per mile of border wall?!” questioned American Immigration Council Policy Director Aaron Reichlin-Melnick. “That’s 2-3x more expensive than what [Customs and Border Protection] paid for most of Trump’s wall. Talk about a ripoff.”
Not that Abbott would care, because it’s not his money that he’s spending. Sure, this money could go to education, to health care, to making sure Texans aren’t suffering in the extreme cold or heat. That’s a silly thought—it might actually help someone! There’s no indication that Texas intends to slow down on its taxpayer-funded spree on border stunts, considering the state legislature has already proposed another $650 million for barriers in its upcoming budget proposal. These contractors will continue to be like little piggies at the trough. It’s not at all hard to imagine Abbott’s spending on barriers alone going into the billions, considering this is all for show and 2024 is coming up. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t going to beat himself, after all.
In my write-up earlier this month about Fisher Sand & Gravel’s $224 million contract, I noted that Abbott’s plans have involved building on state lands as well as private lands, which he first has to secure from Texans. That is, when he’s bothering to consult anyone at all. Los Indios alderman Rick Cavazos told Border Report the Cameron County town wasn’t consulted on construction that’s well underway.
“Let us know what’s going on. Was there communication with Border Patrol? Is this a project sanctioned with Border Patrol? Or is Border Patrol in the loop at all? We just don’t have really very little or no information,” he questioned in the report.
Texas Observer reported last fall that another Abbott mega-donor also won a lucrative contract from the state, not for barrier construction but instead to aid in his Operation Lone Star stunt, which has jailed asylum-seekers for weeks and months at a time without any charges. Matthew Michelsen’s disaster logistics firm Gothams LLC has won state contracts totaling more than $560 million. Like the Sullivan Land Services Company brothers, Michelsen donated a cool $250,000 to the governor.
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Listen to the latest episode of The Downballot podcast for an in-depth analysis of the 2024 Arizona Senate race and the implications of Kyrsten Sinema's re-election decision. Special guest Victoria McGroary, the Executive Director of BOLD PAC, will also discuss the efforts to prevent losses among Hispanic voters and the fight against disinformation in Spanish language media.