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Monday, December 8, 2014

Bonnen Asks Federal Government to Reimburse Texas for Costs Related to Border Security Failures

Insider's Report Vol. 10 No. 9

On Friday, I called on the federal government to reimburse Texas for costs related to its failure to secure the border.

Border security is a federal function, but Texas pays the price when leaders of both parties fail to do their job.  The failure of the federal government to meet its constitutional duty to secure the border has cost the State of Texas and local governments at least $559 million in just the last two years. If the federal government is going to turn a blind eye to border security, the least they could do is pick up the tab.

State and local agencies provided cost data for educating and incarcerating illegal aliens, and providing stepped-up security to address criminal activity along the border. Costs include:

$72,108,476 to be spent on the education of unaccompanied minors from Central America who now reside in Texas. This figure does not include the education of children who came to Texas illegally with their family unit;

•$205,092,350 spent by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to incarcerate criminal aliens in state prisons;

•$137,100,757 spent by county jails to incarcerate criminals aliens;

•$104,277,316 spent by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) on border surge operations to detect, deter and apprehend criminal activities by drug cartels and trans-national gangs;

•$37,211,923 spent by the Texas Military Forces in response to the governor’s order to deploy up to 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard;

•$3,405,241 spent by Texas Parks and Wildlife to assist with patrolling hot spots along the border.

Not all costs for educating, housing and providing health care to illegal aliens is known because the federal government does not track many categories of illegal aliens. 

The likely result of President Obama’s recent Executive Order is that more people will try to cross the border illegally in the coming months as the word gets out across Latin America.  The problem is going to get worse, not better. The costs will only go up, not down. And the four states along the border should not pay an exorbitant share of the cost for a problem that impacts all of America.

The export of illegal drugs, illegal smuggling and crime does not stop at the Texas border. Our porous border with Mexico poses a problem for communities all across America. It is time for the president and Congress to do their part in addressing this problem, starting with picking up the cost.

I was joined at a news conference by several legislators, including members of the House Committee on the Fiscal Impact of Texas Border Support Operations, which I chair. The committee took testimony last Thursday on the operational status of the border surge operation, and continues to monitor the costs of border support operations.