Texas Claims 1,700 Free Panels From Feds, Good for 1.3 Miles of Border Wall

Texas' state government has received 1,700 panels originally intended to be part of former President Donald Trump's border wall that had been declared "surplus" materials once President Joe Biden halted construction of the wall.

The state applied to receive the surplus 32-foot-tall steel panels in November to contribute to Governor Greg Abbott's planned state-funded border wall, and plans to use the new panels for 1.3 miles of new wall between Texas and Mexico, according to The Texas Tribune website.

The panels have been in federal storage in California since construction was halted in January 2021 and were delivered to Texas earlier this month through a $2 million contract with a private company, the Tribune reported. They were requested through the government's General Service Administration, which is a program that allows state and local governments, along with nonprofit organizations, to apply for property and materials the federal government has no use for.

A state spokesperson told the Tribune that the panels will be used "in the near term," but could not provide an exact location.

Abbott held a press conference in December to display the first completed section of his border wall, intended to be constructed with a combination of state funding and private donations, Newsweek previously reported. He has championed his planned wall as an important step in border security, and said that his wall would be able to be built for less money than Trump's planned wall because of use of large amounts of state-owned land.

"We are building this like any private property owner would have the right to build a wall or fence in their own yard, and we're not using federal land. We're using state land," Abbott said at the December news conference. "And so the federal government has no authority whatsoever to interfere with our ability to build this wall and to secure our state."

Texas has dedicated just over $1 billion to the project, which includes an estimated $55 million in private donations, the Tribune reported.

In total, about one mile of the wall has been completed in Starr County on land that the Texas Facilities Commission paid the state land office $125,000 for, according to the Tribune. Last November, the state Facilities Commission gave a $162 million contract to Posillico Civil, a New York-based company that recently completed the shipping of the panels from California, the Tribune reported.

The contract detailed plans to build eight miles of border wall, which included the partially completed Starr County portion. The contract equates to about $20 million per mile, and the Tribune previously reported that the Trump administration's wall building operations cost in a range of $6 million to $34 million.

Update 2/15/22, 5:35 p.m.: This story has been updated with additional context and information.

Border Wall Texas Mexico Greg Abbott
Texas has received 1,700 previously unused steel panels for the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico that were declared "surplus" materials once President Joe Biden stopped construction of the wall. Above, U.S. National Guard members patrol an unfinished section of the wall on November 18, 2021, in La Joya, Texas. Brandon Bell/Getty Images