AUSTIN (CN) – Texas has ordered state troopers to launch “surge” operations at the Mexico border to stop a sudden increase in unaccompanied children illegally entering the country.
Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Strauss made the announcement Wednesday evening.
“Texas can’t afford to wait for Washington to act on this crisis and we will not sit idly by while the safety and security of our citizens are threatened,” Perry said in a statement. “Until the federal government recognizes the danger it’s putting our citizens in by its inaction to secure the border, Texas law enforcement must do everything they can to keep our citizens and communities safe.”
The Department of Public Safety surge will continue for the rest of the year and will cost $1.3 million a week. DPS officials will be required to periodically report on the results of the law enforcement surge to Perry and the Legislature.
The increase in illegal crossings is a “security and humanitarian crisis,” Strauss said.
Attorney General Greg Abbott applauded the surge Wednesday evening, and criticized federal officials for failing to “secure the porous border.”
“The Obama Administration’s failure to enforce the rule of law has empowered transnational gangs and cartels to smuggle people into our state from around the world — including members of deadly gangs like MS-13,” Abbott said in a statement. “The Department of Public Safety will have the tools and resources it needs to curtail illegal smuggling, horrific human trafficking and cartel imported crime.”
The surge comes days after Abbott asked federal officials to provide $30 million in emergency funding to combat the “extraordinary influx” of illegal immigrants.
In a June 12 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Abbott said authorities arrested more than 47,000 alien minors between October 2013 and May 2014 – a 92 percent spike from the same period a year earlier. Abbott cited a Border Patrol memorandum that predicts the number could reach 90,000 by Sept. 30.
Abbott claims that Border Patrol agents are “overwhelmed” by the humanitarian aspects of the influx and that Texas state troopers need to step in.
The $1.3 million-per-week cost of the surge includes troopers being paid for 12-hour shifts, local law enforcement supporting DPS being paid overtime, fuel and lodging, Abbott said.
The surge order comes one week after the ACLU released a scathing report on illegal immigrants stuck in deplorable conditions in immigration prisons run by private contractors.
The 104-page report, “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System,” is the result of a multiyear study of private immigration prisons, particularly five prisons in Texas, which are authorized to imprison 13,548 people.
The Bureau of Prisons paid private prison companies $600 million in fiscal year 2013 to run “privately operated institutions,” the ACLU said in the report, which was released June 10.
The report said the companies are paid incentives for holding people in solitary confinement, and that the Bureau of Prisons uses the private contracts to avoid scrutiny and duck public records laws.
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