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Texas Lawmakers Get Border Security Update

Updated: Tuesday, August 5 2014, 08:02 PM CDT

The battle on border operations continues at the Texas State Capitol. Lawmakers spent Monday questioning state agency officials about what exactly state money is paying for and if they're getting results.

The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety stood strong on the department's efforts along the border.

Reiterating the Texas/Mexico border is not secured and the mission of Operation Strong Safety is to combat criminal activity.

"There are consequences to having an unsecure border with Mexico," said DPS Director Steve McCraw.

Lawmakers quickly asked about the endgame, how long newly activated Texas National Guard members would be on the border.

Major General John Nichols couldn't offer an exact date, but said they're there to support DPS.

"This is a first ever for us in the history of Texas and I think the history of America the National Guard's gone to the border for a long period of time," said Nichols. "We are working through that every day on how that's going to affect our members, their families, and their employers. So we're trying to balance all of those and I think we're doing a pretty good job."

Nichols did say they don't want to be on active duty in a permanent status, and they are generally a short term organization.

For some living not far from the border the extra boots on the ground are welcome.

Saying their only sense of constant security is teaming up with law enforcement and relying on their pets for warnings about unwanted visitors.

"Over 200 individuals, the border patrol has caught 156 of them; this is just a small area, small pasture where my house is," said rancher Dr. Mike Vickers.

Meanwhile testifying in front of lawmakers the executive director of the ACLU Texas stated, "There are only two kinds of additional boots on the ground needed in the Valley: humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross and more administrative and judicial personnel to screen these immigrants to determine their status, whether they warrant consideration for asylum or refugee status."

In a surprise move the head of DPS told lawmakers he would prefer to be out of the border security business but knows that's not likely.

"When we talked about getting out of the business, as soon as the federal government has properly resourced it, then the department of public safety and its local partners can focus on other aspects of it," said McCraw.

McCraw said so far the Texas Department of Public Safety has spent more than $7 million on the border surge. The majority of the money is being spent on overtime pay.

By Adam Racusin

Texas Lawmakers Get Border Security Update


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