Border state officials ask for personnel; not wall
The Republican presidential primary blew through Texas last week, where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) got a much-needed win in his home state.
The freshman senator received an endorsement from Gov. Greg Abbott one week before the Texas primary and went on to win all but five of the state’s 254 counties, earning half a million votes more than runner-up Donald Trump, who has suggested he’ll build a $12 billion wall along the state’s southern border.
The rebuff from the Lone Star State, while not unexpected because of Cruz’s popularity there, served to show that voters in a state with a third of the Mexican border running alongside it don’t want to see a wall running along it.
Abbott, still one of Cruz’s biggest endorsements as the March 15 primaries draw near, last year signed into law a first-of-its-kind $800,000 border security package and has made border relations a touchstone of his administration, even naming Mexican native Carlos Cascos as his Secretary of State.
Abbott’s election came months after the Rio Grande Valley saw the summer arrival of some 50,000 refugees, mostly women and children escaping violence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The crisis reached such fever pitch that in summer 2014 the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security scheduled a field hearing in McAllen, Texas; the city where each day refugees were turning up.
Throughout testimony from then Gov. Rick Perry and state and federal officials, there was never discussion about continuing the Southern Fencing Strategy, the national plan to wall off the border from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Besides the cost of the fence and its inability to deter illegal crossings — there is testimony that it saves Border Patrol agents just 15 seconds — the fence has disrupted migratory patterns for a plethora of native wildlife and in some cases cut off citizens from their property.
Perry sent the National Guard, militarizing further a region already bound on the north and south by border checkpoints.
The deployment was viewed more as a political stunt after Perry slinked toward another failed White House run, but the border continued to stay in the news long after hope for the Gang of Eight bill had faded.
When Abbott took office, he asked Washington for 250 additional U.S. Border Patrol agents to handle the influx of immigrants. When it didn’t happen, he sent 250 Texas Department of Public Safety troopers into Deep South Texas to support federal agents along the state’s border.