Governor Abbott Takes Action To Combat Illegal Border Crossings
With the significant increase in the number of illegal crossings across the Texas border, Governor Greg Abbott today took action in the wake of federal inaction.
“In September, I warned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson ‘about the significant increase in unaccompanied minors who are once again pouring across our border,’” said Governor Abbott. “I asked for his ‘immediate and bold action to prevent this from escalating into an uncontrollable crisis.’ Despite the warning – followed by a phone discussion about the matter – my request for more border patrol agents and strategic resources to secure the border were ignored. Now, the concern I warned about has turned into reality: A substantial spike in illegal crossings has occurred at a particularly unsuspecting time, once again challenging Texas’ security and resources. The Federal Government compounded its negligence by failing to give advance notice so that the state and local governments could prepare for the Obama administration’s unilateral decision to relocate nearly a thousand foreign nationals in Texas.”
Across the Texas border, apprehensions through October and November are on average two to three times higher than last year. In the Big Bend sector, unaccompanied minor arrivals for that period has increased almost tenfold. In the Rio Grande sector, it doubled from 3,219 to 6,465, according to U.S. Border Patrol data.
“Texas will not sit idle in the face of this challenge,” Governor Abbott added. “We will not be victimized as a state by a federal government’s apathetic response to border security.”
To respond to this challenge, Governor Abbott announced he is taking the following actions:
- Extend the deployment of the National Guard troops at strategic locations on the border intended to reduce illegal entry;
- Instruct the Texas Department of Public Safety to coordinate with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to increase the number of boats and tactical officers at strategic locations on the Rio Grande River;
- Instruct the Department of Public Safety to increase aerial observation missions to aid interdiction efforts;
- Award Grants to support the Border Prosecution Unit;
- Provide Grants to Ellis and Rockwall Counties to aid their efforts to respond to the unexpected relocation of unaccompanied minors to their counties.
- Re-urge the Department of Homeland Security to increase border patrol agents in Texas.
“I am grateful to the dedicated men and women of the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and the Texas National Guard for their service to our states’ border security efforts,” Governor Abbott said. “Thanks to their commitment, Texas is doing everything in its power to secure our border.”
These actions will augment the more than 100 DPS officers who will be deployed in 2015 to the border region as a result of the border security plan passed by the Texas Legislature. Additional DPS officers will be deployed as fast as their training can be completed until they reach the full complement of 250 additional troopers contemplated by the new law.
“This action would not be necessary if the federal government fulfilled its obligation to secure our nation’s border,” Governor Abbott continued. “The problem is compounded by drug cartels and transnational gang enterprises that are involved in this illegal cross-border activity—including human smuggling. My first and foremost responsibility as Governor is to protect the citizens of Texas, with or without the federal government’s help.”
Border Security Law
In the most recent legislative session, Texas passed the toughest border security plan of any state in the nation. The State is implementing the law that became effective in September. As part of the plan, more than $800 million has been appropriated over the next two years to add more resources and place 250 permanent Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers on the border. By the end of 2015, more than 100 DPS troopers will have been deployed to the border region, along with additional law enforcement resources, including air and marine assets.
Border Prosecution Unit
The Office of the Governor has provided $4.2 million in grant funds to support the Border Prosecution Unit made up of 17 district and county attorneys within the Texas border region to focus on cases involving narcotics, weapons, human trafficking, organized crime, gangs, and other border-related offenses. On December 10, 2015 the Office of the Governor along with members of the Border Prosecution Unit entered into a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate and cooperate in the prosecution of border crime.
Governor’s Criminal Justice Division Grants
The Office of the Governor will provide up to $200,000 in Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funds to support increased law enforcement activities, including overtime for law enforcement, or other related critical security needs associated with the placement of Central American nationals and unaccompanied minors in Ellis and Rockwall Counties.
Local Border Security
The Office of the Governor will provide $4.7 million in grant funds to support increased overtime and operating costs for law enforcement operating within the border region to enhance efforts to detect, deter, and disrupt drug, human, and other contraband trafficking created by the close proximity to the Texas/Mexico border.