$12M question: Who pays for Guard at border?

A large metal fence marks part of the border between Texas and Mexico. (KXAN Photo\Kevin Schwaller)
A large metal fence marks part of the border between Texas and Mexico. (KXAN PhotoKevin Schwaller)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Supporters of the National Guard activation want Washington to cover the costs, but that may not happen.

“Washington has refused to control to secure our border. I’m mad. Most Texans are mad,” said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, R-Texas. “We’re here today to help the DPS and National Guard fix it.”

“This is going to be state money. This is state active duty,” said Major General John F. Nichols the adjutant general of Texas.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says the state will likely use a budget process to pay for the National Guard activation, for now.

“Budget execution [is one option] and I will suggest to you that is probably the way that this will be addressed. But if it’s not, there are other options that we could take as well,” said Gov. Perry. “The bottom line is, it’s going to be funded. It will be fully funded.”

“We don’t want or expect this situation to lead to litigation because we think that Washington will step up and do the right thing,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is also the Republican candidate for governor. “But we must be prepared to take legal action if that is the course that is necessary.”

Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar is working on border issues. He’s not as confident Washington will pay Texas for these costs.

“I just don’t think [Washington will pay Texas] under the environment that we’re in. So the millions of dollars that [Texas] paid DPS to do this surge, the big money that they’re going to pay the National Guard — it all costs money, but again, I don’t think the federal government is going to do that reimbursement,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.

Even legal options provide no guarantee Texas taxpayers will get money from Washington, if history is any guide.

Back in 1994, Texas filed a lawsuit against the government hoping to get repaid for costs the state paid to deal with illegal immigration. Texas lost that court fight.

A federal judge threw the state’s lawsuit out.

Attorney General Abbott’s Democratic opponent, Wendy Davis, also weighed in on the issue.

“If the federal government won’t act, Texas must and will. However, we should be deploying additional deputy sheriffs to the border like local law enforcement is calling for rather than Texas National Guard units who aren’t even authorized to make arrests,” said Davis, in a statement. “I reiterate my call for Governor Perry to immediately convene for an emergency legislative session to provide the resources to get additional law enforcement personnel on the ground immediately.”

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