Texas won't disclose details of border spending

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Associated Press

Posted on June 20, 2014 at 6:33 AM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Details about how Texas will spend an extra $1.3 million a week ramping up patrols along the border with Mexico — such as with helicopters, heavily armed boats or extra troopers — won't be made public, state officials said Thursday.

The Texas Department of Public Safety cited "operational security and law enforcement safety" in defending the decision after Gov. Rick Perry and other top-rankings Republicans took the rare step of authorizing new state spending late Wednesday.

Under an "operational surge" given the green light by Perry, the state could spend an extra $35 million along the border by year's end but won't disclose where the money will go.

"However, we can assure Texans that DPS will work together with our law enforcement partners to combat the ruthless Mexican cartels who are preying upon our communities and who continue to commit heinous and unimaginable crimes on both sides of the border," DPS spokesman Tom Vinger said in a statement.

The extra spending comes as the federal government is overwhelmed by waves of unaccompanied minors — mostly from Central America — who have been entering the United States in recent months. An estimated 47,000 unaccompanied children so far this budget year have crossed the border from Texas to Arizona in what President Barack Obama has called an "urgent humanitarian situation."

Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus wrote in a letter to DPS that the situation has increased the potential for drug and human trafficking.

Committing new dollars to the Texas-Mexico border also comes during an election year in which immigration has resurfaced as the dominant issue among Republicans.

Earlier this month at the Texas GOP Convention, the party revised its platform to take a harder line on immigration and removed calls for a guest-worker program that Republicans had celebrated just two years earlier. Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott has said that if elected governor in November, the state will spend an extra $300 million to station 500 more state troopers along the border.

Last fall, a three-week DPS initiative called "Operation Strong Surge" was said to have resulted in significant decreases in criminal activity. Critics slammed the DPS at the time for traffic roadblocks that they said were state-run immigration traps, but DPS Director Steve McCraw has said roadblocks won't happen again without consent from the Legislature.

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Follow Paul J. Weber on Twitter: www.twitter.com/pauljweber

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