June 19, 2014

DPS’ goal on the border: Protect and serve

Troopers are needed in the Valley, but not as border guards.

With 1,500 children a week arriving unescorted, it’s reasonable South Texas needs more law enforcement.

The sheer stress on community agencies and services has been overwhelming, and it would be logical to devote state resources to protect everyone’s safety.

Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus did what they felt was in the best interest of the state this week in response to the increasing number of unaccompanied juveniles entering South Texas from Central America.

Leaders approved spending more than $1 million a week, but also gave the Department of Public Safety a specific assignment to make sure money isn’t misspent on a political mission.

If there is any question, the instructions to DPS Col. Steve McCraw spelled out the task:

“The responsibility for securing the border rests exclusively on the federal government,” the leaders wrote, an indirect reference to Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Consitiution.

“ … But [DPS] can reduce crime, ensure the safety of Texas citizens and support the strained resources of local law enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

The new effort basically resumes Operation Strong Safety, a September effort which sent more deputies and technology to interrupt drug cartels and human trafficking.

Some Valley residents considered that more of a nuisance, zero-tolerance traffic crackdown. But according to The Monitor of McAllen, McCraw said the new version will not include the random checkpoints and traffic stops that hurt the local economy and led to accusations that the DPS was targeting the wrong people.

The temptation is to regard the sudden arrival of so many unescorted children as a law enforcement threat, and no doubt some of the children are past violent juvenile offenders. The records are not available to U.S. agencies.

But the fact remains that children have been fleeing Central American violence in every direction for many months. Under current U.S. policy, some actually may qualify to stay with a parent or agency pending an immigration ruling.

Ultimately, the federal government must pass fair reforms to resolve the complicated issues along Texas’ border.

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