Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said yesterday (Thursday, June 19) he supported the decision by Texas leaders to authorize the Texas Department of Public Safety to spend an additional $1.3 million each week to protect the Texas border, according to a press release from the Office of the Texas Attorney General. Abbott is the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in Texas and is a native of Wichita Falls, Texas.
Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Strauss said in a joint statement that spending on the "law enforcement surge operations" comes as the result of "the absence of adequate resources to secure he border. The authorization by the state's leadership follows Abbott's request to the federal government for $30 million from Homeland Security so Texas could send more state troopers to the border.
So far there has been no public response from Homeland Security as to whether the Administration will authorize federal funds for the project.
The crisis along the borer has been exacerbated by more 47,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America who have been surging into the United States so far in 2014. The unprecedented number of children crossing the border has become a focus of the national news media including all the major television networks.
Abbott, who is the Republican nominee to succeed Perry as governor, said, "Texas is stepping up and doing what the federal government has failed to do.....secure the porous border."
Recent polls show Abbott has a healthy lead over Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, but he has not allowed the campaign to distract from his attention to the Texas border.
The crisis at the border was dramatized in recent days as 250 immigrants ran across the the U.S. border near the Anzalduas International Bridge near Mission, Texas recently, according to an article in USA Today. They then did something unusual. They climbed atop a river leveee and awaited their arrest. This group was mainly comprised of children.
The unusual thing about this encounter though was the children took no evasive action to evade arrest by the Border Patrol. The normal operating procedure is to sneak past Border Patrol checkpoints or climb into vans heading for safe houses further norther of the border.
The children are reportedly crossing over from Mexico, but are mainly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The number of immigrant children served by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is responsible for the youth, has exploded from about 8,000 a year earlier this decade to 13, 625 in 2012 and 24, 668 last fiscal year.
There has been a heated debate in Washington D.C. ignited by the mass exodus from Central America into Texas. Administration officials have taken the position violence and economic hardship are prompting the children to pursue an improved life in the U.S. However, other legislators argue the smuggling rings bringing the children into Texas are exploiting a U.S. policy which allows youth from Central American countries other than Mexico to be released to an adult living facility while awaiting their mandatory hearing in court.
Temporary facilities have been opened in Fort Sill, Oklahoma near Lawton and at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio to house the unparallelled influx of children.
Governor Perry, who may be a presidential candidate, said the additional $1.3 million will be spent to bolster Texas Department of Public Safety operations along the border. DPS spokespeople said the money will help combat drug and human smugglers who may take advantage of strained federal and local law enforcement resources.
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