AUSTIN (KXAN) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current state Senator Wendy Davis called on Gov. Rick Perry to declare a state of emergency and call a special session of the legislature to deal with the influx of illegal immigrants coming to Texas.
In a letter to the governor, Davis calls the situation untenable and asks Perry to do four things to help the situation: Declare a state of emergency, call a special session, request additional immigration judges, send the federal government the bill,
Davis goes on to say she supports Perry’s decision to send DPS troopers to the border.
Wendy Davis’ letter to Gov. Rick Perry
June 23, 2014
The Honorable Rick Perry
State of Texas
Dear Governor Perry:
The crisis along our border is an emergency and requires additional immediate attention.
As you know, families from across Central America – primarily from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala – are surrendering to federal border patrol agents along the Texas Rio Grande Valley at unprecedented rates. In fact, since last October, an estimated 174,000 individuals and families, many of them children, have crossed the border and turned themselves over to federal immigration authorities.
The situation is untenable. Federal border agents and facilities are overwhelmed trying to address this human crisis instead of focusing on their first priority to secure our border from drug smugglers, human traffickers and terrorists. You took a solid step, which I support, to address that by increasing support to the Department of Public Safety to help along the border.
However, local counties, cities and charitable organizations are also spending already limited resources to meet the basic needs of these individuals and their families. Adequate food, shelter, clothing and healthcare are equally important.
I share the concern of our state colleagues and local leaders along the border about this growing crisis, and call on you to do the following:
1) Declare a state of emergency. As much as any natural disaster, this is a human one that requires all the focus and energy possible of our state government. A declaration of state emergency on your part, as governor, will provide communities with the essential resources, supplies, emergency services and facilities they need without further delay.
Just as we help communities in the aftermath of wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes and other disasters, we can and should help our border communities during this crisis.
2) Call an immediate emergency special session of the Texas Legislature. In the absence of federal action, local communities need state assistance. The purpose of this session will be to hear from first responders – city and county officials, police, fire, EMS, public health leaders and the faith based organizations – on the challenges they face; assess those needs; and pass emergency appropriations to provide local agencies with the resources they need in order to do their job in protecting local communities and provide appropriate care for these individuals and families.
3) Request additional immigration judges immediately. I agree that this is a federal issue. While I believe it is imperative for the state to act in the short-term, we need the federal government to do its job – including sending more immigration judges to the border. To that end, we should call on the Obama Administration to provide a sufficient number of judges so that those processed by the border patrol will receive an immediate hearing on their immigration requests and, where appropriate, be repatriated to their native country. Given the scale and scope of this emergency, I believe that this is the best approach, rather than releasing these individuals and their families at the local bus station with a hearing set several months in the future. We should vigorously advocate this approach with federal officials.
4) Send the state/local bill to the federal government. We should also sponsor and vigorously support a joint resolution calling for the federal government to pay for any and all emergency funds spent by state and local authorities to address this emergency.
Allow me to reiterate that I agree with border leaders that this is a disaster that requires immediate state action. But, I call on you to not sit by and wait for the federal government to act in order to address the humanitarian needs and the costs of addressing them that local communities are currently bearing. If the federal government does not lead, then we must.
You have my full support to act in the manner described above.
Wendy R. Davis