A select number of Texas senators heard from groups operating along the Texas-Mexico border this week. This group of lawmakers is looking ahead of the 2015 legislative session for the possibility of increasing the state budget for border security.
Lawmakers seated on the Texas Senate Committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs and Homeland Security heard from Col. Steve McCraw, the head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, about their operations along the border.
The purpose of this week’s meeting was to establish what is working and what isn’t and what DPS will need to enforce border security going into 2015, which includes tactics like regulatory checkpoints. DPS initiated such an effort in 2013 called Operation Strong Safety; McCraw said this type of buildup was working, but not everyone is sold on how it works.
“One of the reasons for curtailing it is because I don’t think there is a support there from the State Legislature that they really want checkpoints," McCraw said.
He said the one of the biggest weakness is limited resources and a unified effort with local law enforcement.
“You need to leverage local resources and one thing that would help in something like this is it has to be sustainable, meaning that we can’t do the same people 21 days straight; it has involve deputy sheriffs and deputy constables as well,” McCraw said.
Texas National Guard Brigadier General Patrick Hamilton was also asked to testify. Hamilton said the efforts of other state governments have affected the flow of drugs, guns and human smuggling in Texas.
“It’s much worse," Hamilton said. "I think some of the indicators of that is the successes they’ve had in Arizona; we have absolutely seen movement of some of those activities to Texas. Texas, again, is such a complex border it’s much easier for them to operate across.”
Hamilton said cartels in Mexico have evolved in that they now own legal businesses to help hide the money trail.
Some of those asked to testify said the State of Texas is facing an invasion, a theme that has been maintained during the Republican primary for lieutenant governor.