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Border wall in Texas doesn’t need to cover all 1,200 miles of Texas border, Lt. Gov. Patrick says

January 9, 2019

A day after being at the White House to consult with the Trump administration on the border wall, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said Wednesday that the state doesn’t need a barrier along the entire Rio Grande River from Brownsville to El Paso.

Instead, Patrick explained that the key is building barriers from Brownsville to Falcon Lake. That is a stretch of fewer than 200 miles.

“We need to build the wall, or you can call it a wall, you can call it a steel fence a barrier, between Brownsville and Falcon Lake. That’s where about half of the people who cross the border illegally in the country come. They come in that area,” Patrick said, at a business event in Austin.

Patrick said a more substantial wall in that area would push people illegally crossing the border to “no man’s land” where border patrol and cameras can better intercept them.

Patrick said beyond the wall, the issue on the border is a short-staffed U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency that needs to hire 800 more border patrol agents. He said with adequate staffing authorities would “easily” be able to apprehend people crossing unwalled portions of the border that are more remote.

Texas already has about 112 miles of border fencing in El Paso and along stretches of the Rio Grande Valley near places like McAllen.

Patrick’s comments come just a day after he skipped the first day of the Texas Legislature for meetings at the White House, which he said included Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and advisor. Patrick said it was tough to miss the first day of the Legislature, but felt compelled to help the president prepare for his first major address to the nation from the Oval Office.

“When the president’s team calls, and they don’t call unless the president blesses it, it was tough to say no,” Patrick said.

Patrick, who lives in Montgomery County, is one of Trump’s most trusted political allies in Texas. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Patrick led his Texas campaign.

During Wednesday’s event with the Texas Realtors, Patrick stressed that he was not auditioning for a position in the administration and specifically shot down any possibility that he would be in line to be Trump’s next Secretary of Homeland Security given his expertise on the border.

“If the White House called and said tomorrow ‘We want you and need you,’ I am not leaving Texas,” Patrick said. “And I’m never going to run for president.”

jeremy.wallace@chron.com

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