The Texas Tribune reports that a joint agreement between Governor Rick Perry, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Speaker Joe Straus has been reached to immediately augment funding for the Department of Public Safety in order to beef border patrols. Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican nominee for Governor, also backed this plan.
As the sagacious will surely recall, there have been thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the Texas-Mexico border in recent weeks, reportedly migrating –at least in part– in response to the US’s lenient policy toward undocumented minors. Obviously, the key folly with this line of reasoning is that everyone –minor or not– apprehended at the border is slated for deportation immediately. Anyways, as a direct result of this recent flareup, some prominent Republicans have begun clamoring for a special session of the Texas Legislature to address the issue. Most notably, State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Harris County), the Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor, pushed his nativist rhetoric hard, even giving a hat-tip to previous controversial statements made about immigrants and “third world diseases.” I pushed hard a couple of days ago about just how bad of an idea that it would be to accept such a proposition, as an innocuous border protection session could very easily morph into a right-wing think tank producing Arizona-style immigration policies.
Since a State agency lacks the authority to directly handle immigration matters, the moneys being allotted to the DPS will not go to directly maintaining and enforcing border policy. Rather, as the Tribune article notes, it will be used beefing up current programs to crack down on smugglers, human traffickers and others committing crimes along the border (Editor’s note: Unauthorized border crossings are not a crime, per se, which is why violators are deported and not imprisoned, like –for example– the smuggler or trafficker).
The DPS will receive a funding augmentation of about $1,300,000.00 a week. One other prospective use of the funds would be to set up checkpoints, again not for immigration checks but to deter crime in the terribly unsafe Rio Grande Valley.
All in all, I think this is a good move. The money could absolutely be put to good use if given to the right people, which I have no doubt it will. While I agree with many on the left that the reaction to this influx of children has been unnecessarily harsh (locking them in detention centers), that is a Federal issue and not a local one. Furthermore, with Cantor’s recent loss, the chances of immigration reform’s survival look to be slim-to-none, with a hefty advantage toward none.