AUSTIN (NEXSTAR) — In Texas, some lawmakers are eagerly awaiting the border wall promised by President-elect Donald Trump, hopeful it will save the state money.
The surge of illegal border crossings is saturating America’s immigration system. “The border where we potentially stand the greatest risk is our southern border,” said State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo. “I think we ought to have a secure border.”
Seilger represents the 31st Texas senate district which stretches from the panhandle, south to the Permian Basin. The Texas republican is optimistic about what President-elect Donald Trump will do at the Mexican border.
Texas Democrats do not want a wall, but if Trump follows through on that campaign promise, some lawmakers expect Texas to divert some of the $800 million the state is spending on border security to other priorities, like education and the child welfare system
“We’ve been a stop gap if you will but that stop gap needs to stop because that money needs to be redirected to these children that are in need, dire need right now,” State Rep. Poncho Nevárez, D-Eagle-Pass, said.
The Texas Department of Public Safety plans are asking for a boost in funding for border security. A bump that would drive the state’s commitment to more than $1 billion.
“There has to be more to it than just a simple barrier. But it’s easier to protect, patrol and guard some sort of barrier than it is just a completely open border for 1,300 miles,” Sen. Seliger said.
The senator, who sits on the senate finance committee, says the state’s budget will be tight. But that doesn’t mean that Texas should bank on a border wall. “If we’d been waiting for the federal government to do what needed to be done on our border, we’d be in horrible shape.”