Office of the Governor - Greg Abbott

ICYMI: Aerial RGV Surveillance Of Border Is Necessary

Sunday, February 21, 2016  •  Austin, Texas  •  Press Release
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Aerial RGV Surveillance Of Border Is Necessary
Editorial Board
McAllen Monitor
The recent decision by the Department of Homeland Security to reduce by nearly 50 percent the manpower for aerial surveillance of border patrol operations here does not seem to be prudent, nor has it been well explained.
In a rare spirit of bi-partisanship, Cuellar and Gov. Greg Abbott earlier this month jointly authored a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson complaining about the reduction in staff hours, writing: “Any decrease in aerial observation is not only imprudent, but contradicts the very mission of border security enforcement.”
“We gave them the funding. What they did with it, I don’t know,” said Cuellar who sits on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
Ironically, according to the letter, the state had actually requested more aerial surveillance this year, yet instead ended up with nearly 50 percent less. “We believe DHS should request more surveillance and security resources, not fewer. Moreover, Texas requested additional aerial observation resources in a September 30, 2015, letter that went unanswered by your department. The fact that DHS now appears to be taking the opposite approach is unsettling,” they wrote.
We agree. We have been on ride-alongs with Border Patrol agents and have witnessed first-hand how they depend on those in the air to help direct them. And with the National Guard lacking the authority to make arrests, using them as aerial support seems a good use of their skills, taxpayer funds and enhances the safety of agents.
Nor do we believe it should be. We support the mission of the Border Patrol and law enforcement agents who are here and taxed with this mission. And we believe their safety should not be compromised and if there is a change in border operations, we believe it should be thoroughly explained to our congressman and governor and our local leaders and it should be made clear to all how new plans will ensure the security of our citizens and safety of those who work on the border.
To read the full editorial,click here.