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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bonnen responds to border security crisis

Insider's Report Vol. 10 No. 4

Texas is facing a serious crisis.  A crisis that threatens the safety of our citizens and lends to the exploitation of thousands of innocent children.  A crisis that is not simply a headline in the newspaper about some distant land.  It is a crisis that is already having a real and tangible impact in our own backyards and will continue to pose a threat within our communities unless it is acted upon immediately.  I am referring to the emergency situation along the Texas-Mexico border in the face of our federal government's abdication of its primary responsibility to protect American citizens.  The feds have not only failed to enforce existing immigration laws and provide adequate resources to support law enforcement operations along our border, but also continues to encourage illegal activity through its policies that turn a blind eye to this security and humanitarian crisis.

Recent data released by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) leaves no room for doubt and speculation regarding our border crisis.  These facts and charts clearly reveal that Texas is experiencing a tremendous and unprecedented influx of illegal aliens.  What makes this situation more unique is that much of this increase does not follow the typical pattern of illegal entry at the Texas-Mexico border.  The Rio Grande Valley in particular has witnessed a 58% increase in total apprehensions during Fiscal Year 2013 from the previous year.  Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) apprehensions have increased by 100% between 2012 and 2013, and 312% since 2011.  Many of these children are originating from countries other than Mexico, including El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

There is no question that this influx is taxing our public safety, education, and healthcare systems, while also creating a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.  Just last week, our local news reported that one of our youth homes is at capacity with unaccompanied children who entered the U.S. illegally.  Our communities are also seeing more arrests involving human and drug trafficking.  Smuggled children  are being exploited, kidnapped, physically and sexually assaulted and forced into prostitution.  These and other criminal enterprises, especially those involving gang activity and drug trafficking, are seeping into the fabric of our own society.

While the State of Texas lacks the authority to enforce existing federal immigration laws, we can and will do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our citizens.  Just last week, I supported our Texas leadership in their decision to instruct DPS to begin an immediate surge along the Texas-Mexico border.  This decision comes on the heels of a budget bill that I helped pass last session to increase border security operation funding by 55% ($122 million).  These extraordinary measures will enable DPS to increase efforts along the border with a $1.3 million-per-week operation.  County and municipal agencies will be provided overtime funding, Trooper Strike Teams and Ranger Reconnaissance Teams will be deployed, aviation operations will be bolstered, as will maritime patrols and observation/intelligence gathering posts.  These efforts will be in partnership with other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and include many of the same components as Operation Strong Safety, a 3-week initiative conducted in 2013 by the State of Texas that produced significant results in decreasing criminal activity.

Texans can be assured that we are not simply writing a blank check to DPS nor are we absolving the federal government of its responsibility.  These state efforts and their outcomes are being closely monitored and evaluated by Texas lawmakers, while the Obama administration continues to hear from our state leaders, including a recent request by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott for $30 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (that went unanswered).  As a result of this increased pressure, we are slowly beginning to see the federal government respond as Texas forges ahead.  While we will not let our federal government off the hook, the State of Texas will remain stalwart in fulfilling its responsibility to protect our citizens by securing our borders.  We will continue to serve as an example to the rest of the nation on how to rise to the challenge where the feds have failed us.