Could Texas Really Build Trump’s Border Wall?

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick floated the idea of funding the wall, with federal reimbursement to follow. But was he serious?

By Rhonda FanningJanuary 11, 2019 7:56 am

Though the border with Mexico is nearly 2,000 miles long, it’s the section in the Rio Grande Valley that lands on the nightly news and on the front pages of the papers, especially following Thursday’s visit by President Donald Trump – part of his push to get money for a border wall.

The wall is something Democrats on Capitol Hill are firmly against, and the result of this impasse has been three weeks of a partial government shutdown. But Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick may have offered a solution: Texas could build part of the wall.

Is this for real? Mark Jones, fellow in political science at Rice University’s Baker Institute says he doesn’t think the idea of a Texas-funded wall is a serious one.

“This seems to be more Dan Patrick freelancing, without any real conception of what he would actually be doing, except perhaps providing a nice sound bite for the president,” Jones says.

If Texas did want to build a wall, Jones says the state could fund it with money from the rainy day fund, but getting the federal government to provide reimbursement for that expense wouldn’t be easy. 

Trump has mused about funding the wall through money previously allocated for disasters – including funds set aside for Hurricane Harvey relief. Jones says the money has not yet been spent, which means the president could redirect a portion of it by declaring a national emergency.

“Without question, it would be challenged in court almost immediately by the parties,” Jones says. “That could include California’s attorney general,” along with landowners on the Texas border whose land would be seized to construct the wall.

Even if opponents of the wall were able to win a suit, Jones says any relief money that Trump redirects toward the wall project wouldn’t be available until all of the legal issues are resolved.

Jones says Trump’s threats to declare a national emergency are probably meant to pressure Democrats to give the president what he wants.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.