Advocates worry surge of officers at border is wrong approach

Young boys sleep in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Ariz. CPB provided media tours Wednesday of two locations in Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)
Young boys sleep in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Ariz. CPB provided media tours Wednesday of two locations in Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, that have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, Pool)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Rick Perry has directed the Department Of Public Safety to step up around-the-clock patrols because he says the federal government has failed to keep Texans safe and secure.

But some advocates worry a surge of law enforcement is the wrong response to so many children coming over the border.

Casa Marianella is a shelter for immigrants a lot of people looking for asylum. It sits tucked away in East Austin, and offers a home to immigrants looking for a new start, and safety.

“Because those countries are so dangerous right now, children are going they only places they can to survive,” said Wayne Krause Yang, the legal director for the Texas Civil Rights Project who serves on the board for Casa Marianella.

GOING IN-DEPTH // BORDER SURGE

This isn’t the first time Texas has called in a surge of patrols along the border. The last one happened less than a year ago.

Called Operation Strong Safety, DPS added extra patrols to the Rio Grande Valley from mid-September to early October.

Troopers worked around-the-clock along the Rio Grande – with the goal of stopping smugglers and others from crossing the border illegally.
A DPS report found smuggling and drug trafficking dropped in the Rio Grande Valley after the operation.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said the operation proved the state could shut down illegal activity along the border.

But a making it to this house might be more difficult.

“We don’t want to sit there and point guns at kids with no other chance at survival,” Yang said.

A similar surge of law enforcement officers at the border took place last year and continued for 19 days. DPS officials said it led to a decrease in criminal activity in the Rio Grande Valley.

But Wayne can’t help but worry about the children.

“Sending troops or guns to the border right now is just the wrong thing to do,” he added.

The extra enforcement will cost Texas $1.3 million a week and is expected to last until the end of the year. DPS will not disclose how they will spend the money.

Officials said patrol details will be withheld because of “operational security and law enforcement safety,” but will focus on violent crime and human trafficking.

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