Editorials

August 5, 2014

Texas border operations are a money pit

Dealing with the surge of illegal immigrants into Texas is swallowing a lot of money in Austin and along the Rio Grande.

Dealing with the surge of illegal immigrants into Texas is swallowing a lot of money in Austin and along the Rio Grande.

The cost has alarmed some lawmakers, including some who question the method Gov. Rick Perry has chosen to pay for deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops to the border.

And local officials in the Rio Grande Valley say they need help in offsetting humanitarian, law enforcement and other costs.

It would have been much better if Congress had completed action on emergency federal funding last week, but wishing for help from Congress is futile lately.

To be clear: These are expenses that the entire nation should bear. Immigration is a federal responsibility, not one that border states and their residents should assume or should have to carry.

At least two options are still available.

Congress will be back in session after Labor Day. The House and Senate could agree to funding that would reimburse Texas and the local communities that have been hit hard by the immigrant surge.

But, there we go again, wishing.

President Barack Obama has said that, failing action by Congress, he will take steps on his own to address immigration issues before the end of the summer. He could provide emergency funding to hard-hit areas.

Perry has chosen an unexpected way to pay initial costs of his National Guard deployment, one that his aides defended Tuesday at a meeting of the Legislative Budget Board.

The governor intends to take $38 million that the Legislature allocated for Department of Public Safety emergency radio communications upgrades.

In a report on the LBB meeting, The Texas Tribune quoted Mike Morrissey, the governor’s deputy chief of staff and senior adviser, as saying $7 million will go back to the DPS to help pay for its expanded border operations.

The rest will pay for between two and three months of the National Guard deployment. Morrissey said the governor wants to work with legislators to find funding for even longer National Guard operations.

The money pit keeps getting deeper.

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