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Gov. Abbott Appoints Border Czar to Oversee Construction

Tue February 21, 2023 - West Edition #5
Gov. Abbott

Texas is erecting a 10-mi.-long, three-story-high wall outside Laredo.
(All photos courtesy of Gov. Abbott.)
Texas is erecting a 10-mi.-long, three-story-high wall outside Laredo. (All photos courtesy of Gov. Abbott.)
Texas is erecting a 10-mi.-long, three-story-high wall outside Laredo.
(All photos courtesy of Gov. Abbott.) “I am humbled to be selected by Governor Abbott for this opportunity,” said Mike Banks. “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.”
(All photos courtesy of Gov. Abbott.) Since Gov. Abbott announced in June 2021 that Texas would begin building its own barriers, the state has awarded six contracts totaling $841 million to erect 37 mi. of walls in Cameron, Starr, Val Verde, Webb and Zapata counties.
(All photos courtesy of Gov. Abbott.)

Gov. Greg Abbott recently announced the new position of Texas Border Czar to oversee border construction and security at a press conference on a Texas border wall construction site in San Benito.

Mike Banks has been hired as special advisor on Border Matters to the Governor and will serve as the State of Texas' first-ever Border Czar.

"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," said Gov. Abbott. "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. 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."

The Governor was joined for the announcement by Border Czar Banks, Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw and Texas Military Department (TMD) Major General Thomas Suelzer.

"I am humbled to be selected by Governor Abbott for this opportunity," said Border Czar Banks. "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."

"No Governor has dedicated more time, energy and effort in terms of public safety, homeland security and border security than Governor Abbott," said Director Steve McCraw. "I welcome Mike Banks to the Texas team as we continue working to secure the border."

"I applaud Governor Abbott for selecting Mike Banks as Texas' Border Czar," said Major General Suelzer. "The Texas National Guard and I look forward to working with Mike in our mission to protect Texans as we secure the border."

Border Czar Banks will report directly to Governor Abbott and ensure border security strategies are fully executed in Texas in the absence of meaningful federal action. He will collaborate daily with TMD, DPS and other state agencies, local officials and Texas landowners to carry out Operation Lone Star's mission of deterring and repelling migrants from illegally crossing into Texas from Mexico. Border Czar Banks will also advise the Governor on border security situations and strategies, including the planning of operations ahead of migrant surges, like that of El Paso in December 2022. To best serve Texans and Americans, Border Czar Banks will be based out of Weslaco and travel along the border, and state, as necessary.

Mike Banks of Mission is a former U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) Weslaco Station patrol agent in charge. Banks has more than three decades of federal law enforcement leadership experience, with 23 years in border security operations and administration along the United States-Mexico border. He previously served as acting deputy chief of law enforcement operational programs at the USBP headquarters in Washington, D.C., USBP McAllen Station Patrol Agent in Charge, USBP Rio Grande Valley Sector Executive Officer and Acting Division Chief, among other various USBP leadership positions in Texas, Arizona and California. He also is a former member of the U.S. Navy Military Police. Banks holds an associate's degree in Administration of Justice from Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California, a bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from South Texas College and other awards from the U.S. Navy and USBP.

Gov. Abbott has taken action to secure the border, including:

  • Securing $4 billion in funding for Texas' border security efforts;
  • Launching Operation Lone Star and deploying thousands of Texas National Guard soldiers and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers;
  • Taking aggressive action to aid border communities, including busing thousands of migrants to Washington, D.C., New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia;
  • Designating Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations to keep Texans safe amid the growing national fentanyl crisis;
  • Arresting and jailing criminals trespassing or committing other state crimes along the southern border;
  • Issuing an executive order authorizing the Texas National Guard and Texas Department of Public Safety to return illegal immigrants to the border at ports of entry;
  • Allocating resources to acquire 1,700 unused steel panels to build the border wall in Texas;
  • Signing a law to make it easier to prosecute smugglers bringing people into Texas;
  • Signing 15 laws cracking down on human trafficking in Texas;
  • Signing a law enhancing penalties for the manufacturing and distribution of fentanyl;
  • Issuing a disaster declaration for the border crisis;
  • Issuing an executive order preventing non-governmental entities from transporting illegal immigrants;
  • Signing memoranda of understanding between the State of Texas and the States of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to enhance border security measures in their states that will prevent illegal immigration from Mexico to Texas; and
  • Activating the Joint Border Security Operations Center (JBSOC) and directing the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Military Department, and Texas Division of Emergency Management to coordinate Texas' response to secure the border.

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