During a debate with George H.W. Bush in New Hampshire in 1980, the moderator asked that Ronald Reagan’s microphone be “turned off for the moment.” Reagan was angry and said something that might be applied to the failure of the Biden administration to use materials lying unused in Texas paid for during the Trump administration for the purpose of constructing the border wall. Said Reagan, “I paid for this microphone.” The clear implication was that since he paid for it, he ought to be able to use it.

Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas is making a similar argument. He believes the Biden administration, either to spite Trump, or because it is not interested in securing the border, refuses to use materials already paid for by taxpayers for the purpose of resuming construction of the wall. As a result, Abbott has ordered that construction resume, using state taxpayer funds and new materials.

More than $100 million of taxpayer money was spent on materials intended for the border wall during the Trump administration. They should be made available to Gov. Abbott, but the Biden administration won’t allow it. President Biden canceled contracts for its construction after entering office last January.

The Texas Department of Transportation is set to pay nearly $25 million for the construction of a nearly 2-mile concrete barrier along the border in Eagle Pass. The Texas Tribune reports: “Under the project, the state has also contracted for a temporary fence near the right of way along State Loop 480, which the Department of Public Safety has designated a high-traffic area for illegal immigration.”

Officers from the Texas Department of Public Safety are patrolling parts of the border where federal border control officers cannot be found. Immigrants who cross are being charged with trespassing and put in jail.

Gov. Abbott has said: “The Biden administration has abandoned its responsibilities to secure the border and Texans are suffering as a result. The problems along the border are only getting worse due to President Biden’s inaction. Property is being destroyed, deadly drugs and illegal weapons are being smuggled into communities throughout the state, law enforcement is having to redirect their resources, and county judges and mayors are facing skyrocketing expenses. Texas is doing more than any state has ever done to protect the border, but it is clear that more is needed. In the Biden administration’s absence, Texas is stepping up to get the job done by building the border wall. Through this comprehensive public safety effort, we will secure the border, slow the influx of unlawful immigrants, and restore order in our border communities.”

As some media outlets (mostly Fox) show pictures of migrants illegally entering the country and new reports find some are coming from other than Central American countries, opinion appears to be shifting. A Fox poll last spring found an increase in the portion of respondents saying the migrants “hurt” the country and that attitude is seen across the board: “independents (+21), Republicans (+20), Whites (+18), men (+16), women (+14), Blacks (+11), and Democrats (+8) are more likely to think immigrants hurt rather than help.”

Abbott has created the equivalent of a GoFundMe campaign so he might have additional resources to complete the wall. The website is borderwall.texas.gov.

I’m betting there are many Americans who would be willing to contribute, because they want to see the wall finished and stop the invasion. I would call the project “building the wall back better.”

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Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com. Look for Cal Thomas’ new book “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan).

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