Migrants at El Paso
Texas National Guard and Texas state troopers position themselves on the banks of the Rio Grande on Dec. 20, 2022, in El Paso to manage a large influx of migrants. State lawmakers have approved a bill to spend more than $1.5 billion for additional barriers on the Texas-Mexico border. The Texas Tribune/Ivan Pierre Aguirre

TEXAS - The Texas Senate last week gave final approval to Senate Bill 3, which would appropriate $1.54 billion to continue building a barrier along the Texas-Mexico border and to fund immigration enforcement efforts.

The bill now goes to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has said he plans to sign it into law.

SB 3, sponsored by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, would allow Abbott to use $1.5 billion to build additional barriers along the 1,200-mile-long Texas-Mexico border.

It's part of a package of border-related bills that lawmakers tackled in the current special legislative session. Last month, they passed Senate Bill 4, which would make it a state crime to cross the border between ports of entry, allow police to arrest people who do so and require judges to order them to return to Mexico. Abbott is expected to sign SB 4 into law.

SB 3 was amended in the House last month to allow Abbott to use part of the $1.5 billion to give grants to municipal governments that may incur increased costs while enforcing SB 4.

The bill also allows $40 million to be used to pay for state troopers to patrol Colony Ridge, a housing development near Houston that far-right publications claim is a magnet for undocumented immigrants.

The money would be added to at least $1.5 billion in contracts the state has issued since September 2021 to build about 40 miles of border barrier. As of August, Texas had erected 10 miles of steel bollard barriers in Starr, Cameron, Val Verde and Webb counties.

State Rep. Jacey Jetton, R-Richmond, who sponsored the bill in the House, had previously said that the state could also use the money to deploy more floating barriers like the 1,000-foot-long barrier the state deployed in June on the Rio Grande in Eagle Pass. On Friday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Abbott has to remove that barrier after the Biden administration sued Texas, arguing that the barrier was on international waters and Texas never asked the federal government's permission to deploy it.

-This article was originally published by The Texas Tribune