Houston, TX – Last Friday, State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) traveled to McAllen with Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Director Steve McCraw to tour Texas’ southern border and speak with law enforcement officials about the state of border security. This past legislative Session which ended in June, over $800 million was appropriated to fund aggressive, year-round border security strategies. Since 2014, DPS has been engaged in a border surge called Operation Strong Safety, which is a large scale, multi-agency law enforcement border initiative along the Rio Grande River designed to detect and interdict drug and human smuggling.
During the trip, Rep. Bohac was briefed on the scope and tactics of the operation by officers and department leadership at the Command Post, and along with DPS border agents, he toured key parts of the 1252 mile Rio Grande River in an armored DPS patrol boat--the same boats troopers patrol in day in and day out to protect the Texas homeland. These boats, along with DPS helicopters, fixed-wing surveillance aircraft, and high-tech surveillance equipment, are integral in fighting crime on our southern border.
"Border security has always been one of my top priorities, and after a legislative session where we took significant action to secure our border by appropriating over $800 million for that purpose, it is important to see how those resources are being spent and the return on investment, " Rep. Bohac said. "We made a statement in the summer of 2014 by sending a successful surge of law enforcement officers and the National Guard to help along the border, and now we've made the financial commitment to sustain it. Over the past decade, the Texas Legislature has consistently dedicated a significant amount of resources, technology, equipment and personnel to enhancing border security efforts. Because the federal government has failed to act, the Texas taxpayer has had to step in in a big way.”
Here are recent results of that investment: Since the summer surge of troops in 2014, the number of illegal alien apprehensions by federal authorities in the area fell from 6,606 in week one of the surge to below 2,000 by week 11, and remained consistently low through the summer of 2015. During the same time period, local, state and federal authorities combined to seize more than 560,000 pounds of drugs in the area of operation.
"This was my third major Operation to be a part of, and one thing remains constant; I have a great deal of appreciation and admiration of our DPS Troopers who are working tirelessly to secure Texas’ southern border," said Rep. Bohac. "Crime that comes through our border rarely stays on the border. Along with gang-related violence, we find human and drug stash houses operating in Houston and cartel-related assassinations in Dallas.”
In fact, according to the chief of Border Patrol agents’ labor union report given to Congress last Wednesday, only 40% of the U.S.-Mexico border is under "operational control," and one out of every five illegal immigrants caught there has a criminal record. “This violence spills over the international boundary and into our communities,” said Bohac. “An uncontrolled border is neither just nor right; most importantly, it involves the government failing to adequately perform its most basic function, which is to protect citizens at home and abroad.”
“Texas spends more than $200 million bi-annually to incarcerate criminal aliens in state prisons, and counties spend nearly $140 million during that same time to hold them in county jails. This burden falls on every Texas taxpayer and community, and it is no longer sustainable, nor is it fair,” said Rep. Bohac. “That money could be spent on other more important things like good roads or better schools.”
On November 4, 2014, Representative Dwayne Bohac was re-elected to represent House District 138. He is a lifelong district resident. During the 82nd Legislative Session, he was a joint author of HB 12 that would have banned sanctuary cities in Texas. The legislation would have prohibited cities, counties and other governmental entities from enacting policies that would prevent law enforcement from asking people detained or arrested if they are in the country legally. HB 12 passed the Texas House 100 to 47, but was blocked in the Texas Senate. Passing this bill will be a priority next Session.