Last year, the Texas Legislature dedicated around $800 million of taxpayer money to support an increased law enforcement presence on the Texas-Mexico border. This included money to hire 250 additional state troopers, as well as new vehicles, technology, game wardens, as well as additional resources for prosecutors and local governments. The goal of this new spending was to combat drug smuggling, organized crime, and human trafficking on the Texas-Mexico border, with the Department of Public Safety (DPS) leading the main state-level enforcement role.
Now, DPS has turned a few heads by asking for an even larger amount – greater than a $1 billion – for the upcoming biennium. The extra funds would be for hiring, training, and equipping an additional 250 state troopers, as well as obtaining more technology and newer equipment.
This request is likely a prelude to debate about the state role in border security, particularly on how we measure success. Many legislators, Senator Uresti included, have been asking for more metrics and statistics by which to measure the performance of DPS. Better metrics are necessary to evaluate the “bang for our buck” of our current efforts to increase border security.
Throughout Senator Uresti’s career, he has pushed for increased state investments in infrastructure, education, and healthcare – and it is important that we treat border security seriously while not ignoring (and underfunding) the other priorities of the state.