AUSTIN, February 4 - Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott has addressed the issue of southbound inspections in his new 60-page “Securing Texas” Plan, which was unveiled in Dallas Tuesday.
Abbott suggests local law enforcement authorities work with the Texas Department of Public Safety to set up a system of southbound road blocks at border crossing points “in order to prevent contraband, drugs, cash, and weapons from flowing south across the border to supply cartels and gangs.”
Claiming the federal government is not doing enough to secure the border, Abbott is proposing a doubling of general revenue funds for DPS to enhance its border security operations. He said his plans would create a “permanent border shield.”
The total bill would be $300 million over two years with an additional 500 DPS officers hired over a four year period. This would allow DPS to carry out year round surge operations, Abbott argued.
"We must do more to protect our border going beyond sporadic surges,” Abbott said. “As governor I will almost double the spending for DPS border security. I’ll add more boots on the ground, more assets in the air and on the water, and deploy more technology and tools for added surveillance.”
Specifically addressing southbound inspections, Abbott’s new policy document states:
“A new deployment of DPS troopers to the border would help secure South Texas and funding for such a deployment should be allocated for maximum effectiveness. One of the strategies that local law enforcement authorities may adopt with additional DPS support is setting up a system of southbound road blocks at border crossing points in order to prevent contraband, drugs, cash, and weapons from flowing south across the border to supply cartels and gangs. These road blocks would exclusively be placed at or in the immediate vicinity of border crossing ports of entry only on the international border with Mexico.”
The most vocal supporter of southbound inspections among border law enforcement officials has been McAllen Police Chief Victor Rodriguez. He made an impassioned plea for such inspections at a Futuro McAllen border security forum last November.
“Our communities lose property every day that goes south, unimpeded to Mexico. People have free reign to go back and forth, many of them fugitives. We have no controls at all. Violence in Mexico is largely at the hands of weapons and ammunitions sold here yet we make no effort to address that,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said he would be looking again to Rio Grande Valley legislators to file legislation next session to introduce southbound inspections. He said southbound inspections would require motorists and pedestrians to go through a “law enforcement zone” before leaving the country.
“I think it is important for our communities. In the absence of the federal government doing this, this is something the state of Texas could do to help. The state has put itself out there; DPS has put itself out there as wanting to be the agency that controls the border. Therefore it ought to be them controlling the exits. The bridges are essentially expressways to Mexico.”
Here are Abbott’s remarks on the border security aspect of his “Securing Texas” plan:
“As Governor, I will build on my proven record of keeping Texans safe from threats to our families, whether those threats come from within our communities or from across the border. The federal government has failed in its duty to secure our border, forcing Texas to shoulder that burden.
“Texans are already paying the price for the federal government’s failure to secure the border. Powerful and ruthless international cartels and violent transnational gangs are operating in our state and even in our prison system, with narco-related cross-border crime on the rise.
“But it’s more than just drugs being smuggled in. It is home invasions, kidnapping, extortion, money laundering, robbery, human trafficking and – of course – cartel-related murder.
“The effect of this violence is not limited to our border communities. It’s felt across Texas, in big cities and small, and even into rural areas, where trafficking organizations are growing marijuana on Texas soil. A sizeable problem that is growing larger across the state is the extent to which gangs like the Barrio Azteca, the Texas Syndicate, Tango Blast and countless others are infiltrating schools across the state. They dangle cash to entice high school students to abandon upward mobility and a stable life and instead join the gang-led cartel-related crime life.
“The long-range potential impact on our schools, communities and state are devastating. We’re already paying a steep price for our porous borders. In the last two years, Texas taxpayers were on the hook for more than $150 million to house undocumented immigrants held in our county jails.
“The safety of Texans – and the future of our state – no longer allow us to wait for the federal government to provide the resources to adequately address these challenges. While federal officials like the Border Patrol, FBI and federal prosecutors are doing their best to try to tackle these mounting challenges, there are limits to what they can do because they are underfunded and inadequately resourced.
“As a result, Texas must step up our efforts to secure our border and keep our communities safe. I have a plan to do that. As Governor, I will marshal the tools we need to secure our border and I will enforce the rule of law.
“As Governor, I will almost double spending for DPS border security. I’ll add more boots on the ground, more assets in the air and on the water, and deploy more technology and tools for added surveillance. I’ll mobilize more than 1,000 DPS personnel for continuous surge operations and add 500 more troopers over a 4-year period to build a permanent border shield.
“Beefing up our border presence is only part of addressing cross border crime in Texas.We must also address the cartel and gang related crime that is penetrating our communities, schools and prisons. Gang activity in Texas is growing, with the current number of gang members likely exceeding 100,000. To address this growing danger, the innovative Texas Anti-Gang Tactical Operations Center in Houston should be expanded and new anti-gang centers should be established in Dallas, Ft Worth, Austin, San Antonio, El Paso, Corpus Christi and Weslaco.
“We must do more to keep Texas safe, and we can. As Governor, I will fight to secure our families, our communities, and our border – keeping out the drug cartels and gangs that import crime to our state, protecting your right to be safe in your own home, protecting your children in their schools, enforcing the rule of law and protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”
Abbott’s likely opponent in the general election in November is Wendy Davis, the state senator from Fort Worth. Davis’ campaign spokeswoman, Rebecca Acuña, issued this statement about Abbott’s “Securing Texas” document:
“Actions speak louder than words, and Greg Abbott’s actions are downright hostile,” said Campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Acuña. “Greg Abbott’s positions don’t vary much from the ‘stop the invasion’ rhetoric we’re hearing from his allies. Abbott even went as far as comparing the Texas border to a third world country. Unlike Greg Abbott, Senator Davis has a strong record of fighting for all Texans.”
The Davis campaign maintains that Abbott will not talk to reporters about, one, his opposition to the current Texas DREAM Act that enables students to go to college, two, his Party’s efforts to repeal birthright citizenship, and three, his open support of hostile and controversial immigration legislation.