Abbott appoints new border czar amid surge in illegal immigration

Mike Banks, a former CBP agent, will oversee the fight against the trafficking of drugs and weapons across the border amidst the "absence" of the Biden Administration.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the creation of the position of border czar, to which he appointed Mike Banks, an award-winning former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agent. Abbott explained that he made this decision due to the "absence" of the Biden Administration. Banks will now "oversee Texas' fight against the surge of illegal immigration, lethal drugs, and deadly weapons flowing into our state and nation."

Federal inaction

At a press conference in San Benito, Texas, where construction of the border wall continues, the governor justified his decision after several years of neglect by the federal government. "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," Abbott said. Faced with a inaction from Washington, the Texan said that in order "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."

He went on to explain why Banks was chosen:

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.

Twenty-three years protecting the border

Banks said he was "honored" by his appointment and spoke about his experience and his upcoming assignment: "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."

Coordination between DPS, TMD and border czar

Although he will report directly to Abbott, Banks will work collaborate with Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw and Texas Military Department (TMD) Major General Thomas Suelzer, in addition to other state agencies. Both of the aforementioned senior officials were present at last Monday's press conference and welcomed their new partner, saying they looked forward to "working with Mike in our mission to protect Texans while securing the border."

In a statement, the Governor's Office specified that "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." In addition, 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." Although Banks will be based in Weslaco, Texas, he will travel across the border and Texas as needed.