Abbott: Extra $300M in border security as governor

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Associated Press

Posted on February 4, 2014 at 6:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 5 at 12:06 PM

DALLAS (AP) — Republican Greg Abbott pledged Tuesday to double border security spending if elected Texas governor while deflecting talk of Democratic opponent Wendy Davis and her scrutinized biography that has dominated the race in recent weeks.

"It's time to move beyond all this," said Abbott, the state's attorney general. "It's time that we do exactly what I'm doing today, and that is focusing on the issues that matter most to Texas."

Abbott said those issues for him are public safety, education and transportation. Unveiling his most comprehensive policy rollout since launching his long-expected candidacy in July, Abbott outlined a nearly $300 million border security plan that includes an extra 500 troopers along the Texas-Mexico border.

Federal data show a decrease in violent crime along the border, which tracks with national trends. But Republicans and the top officials at the Texas Department of Public Safety reject those statistics because they don't include such crimes as public corruption or human and drug trafficking.

The presumptive GOP nominee recalled a former South Texas prosecutor convicted last summer of accepting bribes, including an $80,000 payment in a scheme that allowed a convicted murder to escape.

"This creeping corruption resembles third-world county practices that erode the social fabric of our communities," Abbott said.

Davis' campaign seized on the "third world" language and characterized his plan as a rehash of get-tough Republican views on immigrants who are in the country illegally. Davis has spent much of the previous two weeks fighting back criticism after small discrepancies in her personal story about going from a trailer park to Harvard Law School emerged.

"Actions speak louder than words, and Greg Abbott's actions are downright hostile," Davis spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña said. "(His) positions don't vary much from the 'stop the invasion' rhetoric we're hearing from his allies."

Abbott said he also wants all state agencies checking the immigration status of employees under the federal E-Verify system. When asked why he wouldn't instruct lawmakers to impose the same requirement on private businesses, Abbott said the state should first show that the system works and set a standard.

Also left unclear is whether the state currently has a problem with giving jobs to immigrants who aren't authorized to work in the country.

"We'll find out," Abbott said.

Abbott said his border security plan would be paid from state general revenue, which lawmakers wield the most control over — and causes the most friction in the Legislature, even when state coffers are flush with cash. He claimed that taxpayers are already forking over $150 million annually for county jails to house immigrants in the country illegally, and cited that as an area where savings could be found if his policies work.

It was Abbott's third policy rollout after laying out earlier plans on the economy and constitutional rights. Notably absent from Abbott's remarks Tuesday was overt bashing of President Barack Obama, one of his favorite targets, and his administration's efforts on the U.S-Mexico border.

Davis' only policy rollout so far has been on Texas schools, which figures to emerge as one of the dominate issues in the race.

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

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