Lawmaker pushes for special session to address border security

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas is struggling to handle a surge of immigrants along the border as the numbers push toward record levels.

The U.S. Border Patrol says agents in South Texas have made nearly 160,000 arrests since the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. That surpasses the more than 154,000 it made last year. Many of them are children from places like Guatemala and El Salvador.

The numbers have overwhelmed facilities where the government detains immigrants, and the increasing number of immigrants crossing the Texas/Mexico border has some lawmakers demanding more be done to protect citizens.

This major push for border control has some state representatives asking for more resources but it could also mean more money coming out of your pocket. Specifically, $1.3 million more a week from Texas taxpayers.

GOING IN-DEPTH // Border Security

A lot more of your tax dollars have been used in just the last few years to keep Texans safe by working to secure the border.

The Texas Legislature passes budgets every two years.

Between 2008 and 2009, $110 million were spent on border security. Since then, funding has more than tripled.

This year and next more than $330 million will be spent by the Texas Department of Public Safety along the border.

Over the phone, State Rep. James White talked talked to KXAN about a recent letter he sent Gov. Rick Perry asking for a special session to address his concerns on what he is calling the crisis on the border.

“They precipitate from my constituents,” White said. “They’re concerned about border security, they’re concerned about safe communities and they’re concerned that we’re responding to humanitarian crisis.”

White says without the right amount of resources, law enforcement can only do so much.

“There’s no question we’re in a very large humanitarian crisis with these unaccompanied minors crossing the border,” said Rep. Paul Workman.

But Lliana Gilman, the executive director of El Buen Samaritano, says it is about working with immigrants, not against them.

“We can build borders as high as they can go and that still won’t keep folks from coming in,” Gilman says. “What ends up happening is separating families and creating disparities in the economic gap in the community.”

The governor’s office has yet to comment on the call for a special session.

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