A panel of Texas lawmakers authorized spending an additional $86.1 million on the state’s law enforcement to continue an implementation crackdown along the Texas’ border with Mexico, a move that will allow National Guard units to be gradually replaced by state troopers and surveillance technology. This action was taken even though the overflow of undocumented immigrants has decreased.
The two-party Legislative Budget Board integrated by 10 Senate and House members, approved the additional funding,notwithstanding Democrats’ concerns during the hearing about a “militarized border”. Some Republicans also manifested being concerned about the need of the National Guard for longer than planned if President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration generates anew surge of illegal immigrants crossing into Texas.
Gov. Rick Perry ordered up to 1,000guardsmen to the Rio Grande Valley in July amidst a record wave of illegal border crossings that has since decelerated, claiming at the time the influx of immigrants had made it easier for drug and criminal gangs to operate. All guardsmen are set to return home by April 2015.
The board’s vote takes funding from other,mostly unrelated parts of the state budget,including money left over after other agencies paid down outstanding debts. It means the surge is now financed through August 2015.
The extra funding covers overtime payments that will mean the equivalent of 640 additional state troopers and other police personnel, Department of Public Safety Director Steve McCraw said. He also indicated that, unlike guardsman who couldn’t make arrests, troopers can stop illegal activity,moving the state “from defense to offense.”The number of unaccompanied minors —which accounted for much of the immigration influx — apprehended in South Texas dropped by 42 percent in October 2014 compared with October 2013.
Texas Department of Public Safety statistics using Border Patrol data show that, during the first week of the state’s Operation Strong Safety in late June, 6,606 people were apprehended where state forces were deployed. That number fell to 1,521 in the week ending Nov. 1.