Amidst the influx of migrants arriving from Central America, Texas is spending more to prosecute criminal cases on its southern border.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced this week that the state was earmarking $5.795 million for Border Protection Units (BPUs) to investigate and prosecute individuals involved in narcotics, weapons, human trafficking, organized crime, gangs and other offenses related to illegal immigration.
The biggest BPU grant went to El Paso County, across the Rio Grande from cartel-ridden Juarez.
With the longest stretch of border facing four Mexican states, Texas is on the front line of American immigration enforcement. While U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) agents are inundated by a new surge of illegal immigration, their thin green line is getting much-needed backup from the Lone Star State.
BPU works with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and federal and local law-enforcement agencies in handling various cross-border crimes. Some 3,574 criminal cases have been filed so far this year.
To bolster federal efforts, DPS also deploys 1,637 officers along the border. The state Legislature allocated $800 million for special operations there in 2018-19, up from $550 million during the previous biennium.
DPS, Highway Patrol and Texas Rangers made 19,088 “high threat” criminal arrests in the border region between June 2016 and May 2017 (the latest data available). State police detained an additional 101,038 individuals in support of U.S. Border Patrol agents. Since state operations began, Texas officers confiscated drugs valued at $1.833 billion and more than $40 million in currency at the border. See full report here.
CPB estimated last March that its agents seized almost 3 tons of narcotics on a typical day along the southwest border. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in August that agents “interdict more and more drugs at the border each month.”
Yet federal prosecutors charged fewer people with border-crossing drug-trafficking violations in June and July than in any months since 2001.
In Southern California, like Texas, more drug-smuggling cases have started appearing in local courts – a clear sign that federal agencies and prosecutors are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of immigration violations.
Last month, CPB arrested 16,658 “family units” crossing the border in September, the highest one-month total on record. With more caravans on the way, the cost of a chaotic border is mounting on Texans and, ultimately, on every American.