NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – During its newly ordered surge operations along the Texas-Mexico border, the state Department of Public Safety says it will target drug dealers, human traffickers, and gangs.
On Wednesday night, Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus directed DPS to spend $1.3 million each week for the rest of the year on the operations. Their action comes after more than 47,000 unaccompanied children from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala have crossed the Southwestern U.S. border, most of them into Texas.
“The human trafficking issues that have increased in recent years, cartel issues, drug issues along the border persist even as tens of thousands of these people immigrating from Central America primarily come across, and it’s just an overwhelming situation,” says Straus.
Both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers support the state’s action. “Our international borders are supposed to be secured by the federal government and what’s happening now demonstrates a complete failure on behalf of the federal government, and unfortunately, we’ve directed limited Texas resources to the Texas-Mexico border right now,” says State Representative Kenneth Sheets, Republican of Dallas.
“We’ve heard from other friends, other representatives along the border they need help making sure they’re adequately dealt with and I think it’s a wise move,” says State Representative Roberto Alonzo, Democrat of Dallas.
The state already budgeted $122 million on border security for 2014-15.
That’s a 55 percent increase over what the state spent during the prior two year budget. Straus says DPS will spend an additional $1.3 million each week for the rest of the year. Aside from increasing the number of state troopers on the border, that money will be used to pay for overtime for state and local law enforcement.
State leaders are hoping the federal government will pay the state back. Both candidates for Govenor are on board.
“Texas is stepping up and doing what the federal government has failed to do – secure the porous border,” says Republican Greg Abbott.
Democrat Wendy Davis agrees. “I certainly support any effort we can engage in to keep the border secure, and if it means that we have to step up and fill the void until we wait for the federal government to do its job, then we need to that.”
DPS declined to give specifics about the operations, and wouldn’t say whether any state troopers from North Texas will be sent to the border. An agency spokesman says DPS has no authority to enforce federal immigration laws, and that if state law enforcement officers come into contact with a suspected illegal immigrant, they will refer them to federal authorities.
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