AUSTIN – On Tuesday, State Representative Cecil Bell, Jr. (Magnolia) traveled with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to the Texas-Mexico border to see first-hand border operations conducted by DPS and the United States Border Patrol. Rep. Bell was joined by several other Members of the Texas House of Representatives, including Reps. Geren, Kacal, Kuempel, Raney, White, and Zerwas.
The members were briefed by DPS Director Steve McCraw regarding current border operations. In the fall of 2013, DPS conducted Operation Strong Safety to combat threats in the Rio Grande Valley. During that three-week initiative, increased patrol presence resulted in a 49 percent decrease in marijuana seizures, 95 percent decrease in methamphetamine seizures, and a 74 percent decrease in felony pursuits.
The delegation was also briefed by Customs and Border Patrol regarding unaccompanied alien children. The border situation is yet another Washington quandary as Border Patrol resources continue to be diverted from border security to managing the influx of unaccompanied children. Mexican Cartels are exploiting the failure of the federal government to act responsibly to address the illegal influx to commit deplorable crimes along the border.
Governor Perry and the Texas Legislature responded to the dire situation and serious threats along the border by authorizing existing funding for an amplified border security surge operation to combat the Cartels and criminal elements at the border before the threat reaches Texas soil. As a result, DPS launched Operation Strong Safety (building on the previous successful surge operation), whereby they have increased personnel and are coordinating with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies on a 24/7 basis to conduct river, air, and road patrols to combat and deter criminal activity along the border. From week 1 to week 3 of operations, Border Patrol apprehensions of illegal immigrants have dropped by 36 percent overall in the area of operation, from more than 6,600 per week to 4,200 per week.
“I applaud the collaborative efforts of DPS, Border Patrol, Texas Military Forces, and local law enforcement in rapidly and effectively responding to our growing border crisis,” said Rep. Bell. “The effectiveness of our state-lead border security operations proves that instead of building capacity for detention, our federal government should be investing in the resources necessary for prevention. Sovereign nations have secure borders.”
While accompanying DPS on a fly-over of the Rio Grande River, the members observed an interdiction when several people were seen swimming across the river to Texas. The presence of the helicopter deterred them and they swam back to Mexico where they rejoined a much larger group waiting in the trees. Minutes later, a truck appeared, loaded everyone, and drove away from the river.
“The brazenness of these individuals is astounding. The federal government created this culture by its inaction and by political invitation and we cannot allow it to continue. If our federal government is going to continue to fail us, Texas will secure our border,” said Rep. Bell.