Texas Gov. Rick Perry and other state officials have authorized the Texas Department of Public Safety to begin emergency “surge operations” along the border with Mexico in response to an influx of immigrants making the illegal crossing, mostly women and children from Central America.
State leaders authorized the department to spend on the surge as needed and provided an additional $1.3 million per week, according to a statement Perry’s office released late Wednesday. Department officials will be expected to report results of the surge to the governor and Legislature “periodically,” the statement said.
“Texas can’t afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis, and we will not sit idly by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened,” Perry said. “Until the federal government recognizes the danger it’s putting our citizens in by its inaction to secure the border, Texas law enforcement must do everything they can to keep our citizens and communities safe.”
The surge is expected to continue through the end of the year, the statement said.
“The federal government has abdicated its responsibility to secure the border and protect this country from the consequences of illegal immigration, but as Texans we know how to lead in areas where Washington has failed,” said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, among the officials who authorized the action. “It’s time to make this type of presence on the border permanent.”
In their Wednesday statement, Dewhurst, Perry and Republican Texas House Speaker Joe Straus noted that the Border Patrol caught 160,000 individuals illegally crossing the Rio Grande Valley in the first eight months of this fiscal year — more than the total caught there last year.
Last month, they noted, Border Patrol agents caught more than 1,100 immigrants per day in the valley.
Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott, a Republican campaigning for governor, immediately released a statement applauding the surge, which comes less than a week after he contacted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to request $30 million in added federal funding.
“Texas is stepping up and doing what the federal government has failed to do - secure the porous border,” Abbott said Wednesday.
Johnson is expected to visit Brownsville on Friday, his second trip to the valley in as many months. A Homeland Security spokeswoman said she could not comment about the visit.
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