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Government/Politics

Legislative Board Approves More Funding For Texas-led Border Surge

The Legislative Budget Board has given the green light to over $86 million in funding measures, which will extend the life of the state’s border surge, known as Operation Strong Safety.  Democrats on the board have praised the plan’s ramping down of National Guard troops in the Rio Grande Valley.

Although the board, comprised of members of the legislature, the Lt. governor and speaker, voted unanimously to extend the border surge along the Rio Grande Valley, some Democrats, like Houston Rep. Sylvester Turner, had severe reservations when it came to approving the second round of state border spending.

“When we started this surge program months and months and months ago, we categorized it as an emergency, do we still categorize it as an emergency?” Turner said.

And despite the drop in the number-of-crossings, the state still classifies the Department of Public Safety-led surge as an emergency.   Which was also another point of contention — how did the DPS calculate success in the Rio Grande Valley?

“One of the more frustrating things, and you said it best, is that when you claim success when the numbers go down, [and] at the same time, you claim success when the numbers go up, something’s wrong with that metric. And that’s why we’ve been adopting this posture, you’ve got to be able to measure your detection capability,”  said Col. Steve Mc Craw, the DPS director.

McCraw, reiterated that while they were looking at a metrics to measure success on a more consistent, cohesive manner, as things stood, troopers were already using more than 1,600 motion sensory cameras, set up by the DPS along the border, to help the department measure their success rate. 

The executive funding order would also gradually draw down National Guard troops, with the last guardsman leaving by March. After this, it would be up the legislature to decide whether to extend National Guard activities.