December 8, 2014 / 8:44 PM / 5 years ago

Texas governor-elect seeks federal funds to cover immigration costs

Texas Gov-elect Greg Abbott speaks to the media after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama and other Governor-elects from seven U.S. states at the White House in Washington December 5, 2014. REUTERS/Larry Downing

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas has asked the White House for hundreds of millions of dollars illegal immigration has cost the state, Governor-elect Greg Abbott said on Monday, blaming President Barack Obama for not doing enough to secure the border.

Abbott, a Republican who takes office next month, met Obama last week shortly after he filed a lawsuit on behalf of states suing the administration over its executive order that eased the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants.

At a news conference in Austin, Abbott said he made the reimbursement request to two Cabinet members and a member of the president’s staff, without offering further details.

“We understand that this is a federal responsibility and we expect the federal government to step up and fulfill its responsibility to secure the border,” Abbott, who is currently the state’s attorney general, told reporters.

Last summer’s deployment of more police and National Guard troops on the border with Mexico has accounted for about a quarter of the state’s estimated spending on immigration measures. U.S. Democrats and the Mexican government criticized Texas’ deployment as being more political than practical.

Democrats have cited data showing the flow of immigrants was slowing before the National Guard deployment started, that more U.S. Border Patrol agents have been assigned to the border. They also say members of the National Guard do not have the power to arrest, raising questions about what they are doing.

Texas lawmakers estimate the state has spent at least $500 million to meet immigration challenges, Abbott said, adding he has received no answers from the Obama administration on the state’s call for federal funds.

Abbott said he also talked to the president about expanding the capacity of the Port of Houston, one of the largest in the country in terms of imports and exports.

Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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