Texas National Guard on border to go under federal orders

In this April 19, 2011 photo, Texas National Guardsman Cpl. Martinez looks through a pair of binoculars near the Hidalgo International Bridge in Hidalgo, Texas. (AP Photo/Delcia Lopez)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The federal government will begin funding Texas National guardsmen working on the border as part of Operation Secure Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday.

“The taxpayers of Texas have funded border security, a federal responsibility, for far too long,” said Gov. Abbott. “I am grateful that the federal government and Congressional appropriators are stepping up and dedicating additional resources to provide for the safety and security of all Texans. The state of Texas also extends it gratitude to the men and women of the Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety for their continued commitment to securing our border.”

Guardsmen currently supporting the operation will transfer to federal orders in late July, as part of the $2.3 million federal funding announcement.

Republicans across Texas say the announcement is a move in the right direction — one they’ve been waiting for for years.

“Border security has been one of the top items of concern of the people of Texas for several years now,” explained Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood. “It has cost the people of Texas billions of dollars every year as a result of what’s come across the border illegally.”

Hall says the federal funding will allow the guard to work in conjunction with DPS in order to better secure our borders.

“With this additional funding, to be able to bring in more troops, to augment what we provided in funding last session for our DPS officers to be able to address the issue of drug cartels and gang members, and other illegal activities,” Hall said.

Democrats say the funding announcement is a step backwards and disregards local law enforcement agencies.

“We’d be much better off if we reinforced local law enforcement. We have experienced sheriffs, police departments in McAllen and Mission in the other areas. We have constables there. They understand the terrain. They understand the people and the environment,” explained U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin. “We would be better off if the state wants to just throw money at a problem, if they gave those resources to local law enforcement and respected the local law enforcement. I just think that we get a better result when we turn to our local police chiefs and sheriffs, than relying on political interference from the state capitol or from here in Washington.”

Doggett says the funding is a waste of taxpayer dollars and far from what the state initially requested of the federal government.

The deployment of guardsmen as part of Operation Secure Texas in 2014 brought a nearly $12 million a month cost to the state budget. Then Gov. Rick Perry announced the deployment saying, “Bottom line it is going to be funded and fully funded. At some point in time, the federal government will respect its constitutional requirement and reimburse the state.”

The 2014 deployment came as Texas was in the midst of a surge of unaccompanied minors crossing the border. Just a month prior, Perry ordered troopers from the DPS to begin operations along the border. 

A 2016 KXAN Investigation found Troopers were making more arrests for drunk driving than drug smuggling as part of their deployment to the border region.

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