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Secure Border Still An Issue Despite $800 Million Investment

The Texas Legislature has committed $800 million to securing the Mexican border. But improving security in one part of the state may be reducing it in others.

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The Texas Legislature has committed $800 million to securing the Mexican border. But improving security in one part of the state may be reducing it in others.

The goal for the program was a secure border. But Steve McCraw, Department of Public Safety Director, told the legislature Tuesday, that 12 of 14 border counties would be categorized as "minimally controlled" or "unsecured."

McCraw says, "The significant vulnerability to public safety and homeland security that the state faces is a porous international border with Mexico. And the organized crime threat is also the most significant organized crime threat and public safety threat that we face."

"The overwhelming amount of trafficking is occurring through the Rio Grande Valley. 53% of the total apprehensions, not just for Texas but for the nation, is happening in the Rio Grande Valley," he added.

In 2015 the state approved the border security package hoping additional tools — including over 5,000 security cameras, and 250 patrol officers — would stem the tide of illegal activity. But, DPS is still 52 officers short of its 250-trooper goal. And placing all the new troopers on the border is not something McCraw is willing to do.

"We can't put all rookies down there. We cannot do that. It's already a strain on our system of experienced field training officers to be able to provide that experience," McCraw says.

So far, the solution has been to pull experienced troopers from other parts of the state. And McCraw believes that has consequences.

"Anytime we deploy troopers out of an area it has an impact on that area, and we've been doing that for two years now,” he said. “So, clearly is there a public safety impact in the area when they leave, absolutely."

McCraw thinks the patrol issue will be solved when the DPS hires the additional officers, which he hopes will happen by the end of the year.

 

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