Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Dewhurst asks for 'permanent surge' to secure border

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TWC News: Dewhurst asks for 'permanent surge' to secure border
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Steve McCraw, director of Texas’ Department of Public Safety, says his top mission as the state's top law enforcement officer is to put an end to dangerous drug cartels committing crimes and smuggling drugs across the border.

"Securing the Texas-Mexico border is vital to public safety,” he said. “It's also vital to homeland security."

And now Lt. Governor David Dewhurst says he wants to find $60 million dollars a year to ramp up periodic enforcement efforts to make them permanent.

"Until it's adequately secured and traffickers cannot move freely throughout our border region, in my mind, discussions of any other reform are moot," Dewhurst said.

The extra efforts would include constant patrol from additional state police along the Rio Grande River as well as surveillance by air and boat.

There is no funding in the state budget for such a program, but Dewhurst says he wants to make room for it and have it approved as soon as possible—possibly by the end of the year.

Over the past five years, the state has spent about $800 million dollars to ramp up security efforts.

McCraw says the most recent three-week surge brought smuggling across the border to a halt for a time.

"You can secure the border through sustained saturation patrols and when you do, the Rio Grande Valley, the state of Texas and the nation are a safer place to live,” McCraw said. “There's no question about it."

Lt. Governor Dewhurst tasked lawmakers to study the effectiveness of the surge in the interim. He also wants them to look at current crime statistics reporting, to see if they measure crimes related to illegal border activities.

McCraw says the controversial border checkpoints won't be part of the permanent surge. Civil rights groups accused DPS of trying to target immigrants in the country without legal documentation.

While McCraw disputes those allegations, he says his agency won't use the checkpoints again without legislative support.

"It's a tactically brilliant technique that's strategically flawed," he said.

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