House committee investigates border spending

AUSTIN -- State lawmakers are taking a close look at the millions spent in state money to secure the border.

The Special Texas House Committee on Border Operations wants to know exactly where all that cash is going, and they hope to get some answers Tuesday at a hearing at the Capitol.

Leaders from five state agencies are expected to give testimony regarding the more than $5 million a week it now costs to patrol our southern border.

The head of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Steve McCraw, was first on the agenda on Tuesday. He told the panel the extra patrols are needed because while the influx of children and families themselves are not a security threat, they distract resources away from the Border Patrol agents keeping the drug cartels under control.

Rep. Sylvester Turner asked McCraw when the surge will be over. McCraw estimated it will be in January 2015.

He added his intention is for "Texas to get out of the business," that eventually the federal government should take over the job.

This hearing was called after the state announced it was spending an extra $1.3 million per week on border security. That includes more helicopters, armed boats and police troopers.

It's in addition to the up to 1,000 National Guard troops Gov. Rick Perry announced will head to the border at a weekly cost of $4 million. They will be acting in a minor "support role," not detaining or arresting anyone who is undocumented.

The number of undocumented immigrants is large -- nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children have poured into the U.S. since October.

McCraw also pointed out that the number of undocumented immigrants crossing the border is down 45 percent from its peak earlier this year. He would not directly attribute that to the surge of law enforcement agents at the border.


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