Border Security

“The Department of Public Safety would be given the power to establish driver’s licenses and insurance checkpoints along state roads as part of a broader border security bill introduced [in March 2011]. The checkpoint provision is part of a bill that supporters say would crack down on drug cartels and human smuggling rings operating in Texas. It would require that every person booked into prison in Texas have their citizenship checked, increase criminal penalties for gang and cartel members and increase fines for drug crimes. ’We want to have a package that’s focused on solving our unique situation here in Texas,’ said state Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, who chairs the Senate committee on transportation and homeland security.” –Houston Chronicle

“On the ranch lands near the U.S. border, people no longer take security for granted and have turned to weapons to stave off drug thugs. Teachers, ranchers, town officials, business owners and lawyers in rural towns of northwest Chihuahua near New Mexico have armed themselves. Legal or not, they are ready to use their guns for protection. In a country caught in the clutches of a vicious drug war, people have decided it’s better to fight than to fall victim to the violence, which has claimed about 35,000 people nationally.” –El Paso Times

The Texas Virtual Border Watch is a pilot program created by the State of Texas that allows individuals with internet access to observe and report on the Texas-Mexico border via cameras connected to their computers. On June 1, 2006, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced $5 million to be used to install the cameras with the voluntary participation of private land owners. The trial version of the Texas Virtual Border Watch received 2,780 reports of suspicious activity before November 2008. Users range from those who want to help stop illegal drug traffic and illegal immigration across the border, to those simply looking for “something to do.” From November 2008 to February 2009, the program has been credited for four busts yielding 1,500 pounds of marijuana, as well as 30 incidents where illegal immigrants were repelled. It is funded by the Texas governor’s criminal justice office, at a cost of $2 million in its first year. The Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition (TBSC) instituted the program.

In 2009, Governor Rick Perry asked for $135 million to increase land, air, and water patrol capacity along the border and to add capacity to combat transnational gangs, bolster local law enforcement in border counties and towns, and reduce border corruption. Perry also has requested 1,000 National Guard troops to help patrol the Texas-Mexico border. In May, President Barack Obama issued an emergency order calling for the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops along the U.S.-Mexico border, and nearly 300 of the troops were ordered to Texas. Governor Perry delivered a letter to Obama during the president’s August stop in Austin, urging more troops along with additional law enforcement tools and technology. “I’m fed up with this administration and their clear attack on Texas,” Perry said.