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Greg Abbott announces Texas' first border czar amid surge of illegal migrant crossings

Amid the Biden administration's ongoing border crisis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a former Border Patrol agent as the state's first-ever border czar.

Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday announced the state's first-ever border czar to address the influx of migrants coming through the U.S.-Mexico border.

Abbott tapped veteran Border Patrol agent Mike Banks to serve as "special adviser on border matters to the governor," in response to the Biden administration's handling of the border crisis.

"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 said at a news conference on a border wall construction site in San Benito, Texas. "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." 

"As an award-winning Border Patrol agent, with decades of federal law enforcement and border security experience, Mike 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," the governor continued. "I have no doubt that Mike's strong record of leadership and wealth of experience will provide Texans — and Americans — the level of border security expertise they deserve from a proper border czar." 

AMID 2022'S MASSIVE MIGRANT SURGE, NUMBERS IN ICE DETENTION REMAIN LOW

Banks, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw and Texas Military Department (TMD) Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer were present for Abbott's announcement.

"I am humbled to be selected by Governor Abbott for this opportunity," Banks said. "Protecting our nation’s border is something I have dedicated the last 23 years of my life to, and I am very passionate about it. I look forward to strengthening our relationships with law enforcement partners and the community, leveraging all that we can to further protect our great state of Texas and the United States."

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The new Texas border czar is expected to collaborate daily with DPS, TMD and other state agencies, local officials and Texas landowners to deter and prevent migrants from entering Texas illegally through the Mexico border. He also is expected to advise Abbott on situations and strategies at the border, including plans to address migrant surges. He will be based out of Weslaco and travel along the border when necessary.

Banks has more than 30 years of federal law enforcement leadership experience, including 23 years in border security operations and administration along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Abbott has been highly critical of the Biden administration for its handling of the border, which has seen record numbers of illegal crossings since the president took office in January 2021. 

In response to what he's described as the federal government's inaction on border security, the governor has launched several initiatives aimed at addressing the border crisis, including sending buses of migrants to sanctuary cities like Washington, D.C., and New York City, allocating $4 billion in funding for Texas' border security efforts and deploying thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.

"No governor has dedicated more time, energy, and effort in terms of public safety, homeland security, and border security than Governor Abbott," McCraw said at Monday's news conference.

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