Critics question legality, politics of Abbott’s call to build Texas border wall

Voices are rising in opposition to Gov. Greg Abbott vowing Texas will build a border wall.

Abbott announced on Thursday the state would begin construction of a border wall, but didn’t give specifics on when or where such a project would take place.

Much of the criticism on Friday was whether the state can even build a wall and the political posturing by Abbott ahead of a re-election bid in 2022 and a potential presidential run in 2024.

President Joe Biden stopped border wall construction by executive order his first day in office. But at his border summit Thursday in Del Rio, Abbott said the building will begin again.

"The governor really doesn’t have the authority to build a border wall, in the sense that immigration is a federal responsibility," Mark Jones, Rice University political science professor.

"In theory if Governor Abbott wants to build a big wall somewhere near the U.S./Mexico border he can do so. But there will be issues of eminent domain and taking land, funding that wall and then actually constructing it. If it’s not part of a broader immigration system that’s coordinated with the federal government, it’s likely to not be very effective. Can you imagine if you put a big 20 mile wall in one place, there's holes around it, so people just go around it. I think really this is much more political theater than anything else."

LULAC national president Domingo Garcia says the Latino civil rights group already is considering court challenges.

"It's absurd... it’s an abuse of authority," Garcia said. "We're going to fight it. We think his actions are illegal under federal law, the U.S. Constitution and the Texas Constitution."

The border and the surge is one of the most important topics to Abbott's conservative base.

"This is as much about him presenting a stern face to the border and border issues," said Cal Jillson, SMU political science professor.

Jillson says this tough stand is not only to appease Republican voters, but also a pre-emptive attack against challengers from his own party. Former State Senator Don Huffines from Dallas already declared he is running for governor against Abbott and has talked about border security.

"Governor Abbott has his eyes on the border today, but what the border will represent in his reelection against Mr. Huffines and perhaps even in 2024 should he run for president," Jillson said.

Abbott has said he will deliver details about his border wall build out next week.

RELATED: Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas will build a border wall, but doesn’t yet give details on cost or location