Texas leases state land for remote Border Patrol command centers, helipad

Border Report Tour

A U.S. Border patrol vehicle is seen parked along the Rio Grande river ( just beyond the dirt road) that marks the border between Mexico and the United States on January 14, 2019 in Fort Hancock, Texas. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Texas will allow the U.S. Border Patrol to build a helipad and a pair of communication facilities on state-owned land near the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Texas General Land Office announced Monday that it has entered into lease agreements with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency.

The lease agreements are for tracts of land in Hudspeth County in Far West Texas and Brewster County in the Big Bend area. Both lease agreements are for five years, and CBP must pay $12,500 in “rent.”

The lease agreement for Brewster County stipulates that CBP can use that land solely for a Tactical Command Network System communication facility with the potential for a 10-by-10-foot helicopter landing zone pad.

The lease agreement for Hudspeth County stipulates the CPB can only build a communication facility.

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush cited a dramatic increase in migrant apprehensions and attacks on border authorities in announcing the lease agreements.

The number of migrant apprehensions for the fiscal year hit a 20-year high in August, with more than 1.3 million apprehensions at the southern border alone, most of which occurred in Texas.

In June, Bush authorized the emergency use of state lands to support a call from Gov. Greg Abbott to complete the border wall. Bush said the state had 591,595 surface acres along the border and that his office would partner with state and local officials to expedite the completion of the barrier “needed to protect Texans from smuggling, crime, and trafficking.”

Texas officials like Bush and Abbott have been at odds with President Joe Biden’s border policies, including stopping border wall construction and rolling back many of the Trump administration’s strict immigration policies like the Migrant Protection Protocols program that forced asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases made their way through U.S. immigration courts.

“President Biden continues to ignore the humanitarian crisis at our doorstep even as federal agents risk their safety and lives every day as they confront this disaster,” Bush said in a news release issued on Tuesday. “The GLO will continue to do everything in its power to assist our brave Border Patrol agents, mitigate the effects of this crisis, and secure our border.”

In July, Bush sued the Biden administration “on grounds of illegally preventing the border wall from being constructed.”

Flanked by Border Patrol agents and local farmers, Bush announced the lawsuit in the border town of Rio Grande City, Texas. He said Congress had allocated more than $5 billion to construct fencing and walls around the Southern border and that President Joe Biden could not simply halt construction.

“This is wrong. This is illegal. And this will not hold up in court,” Bush said.

Bush sued the Biden administration under the Texas Defense Task Force, which Bush developed to identify and fight back against what he called federal overreach.

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