DPS surge to begin this weekend amid immigration crisis
Thu, 19 Jun 2014 22:34:36 GMT —
More than 1,000 undocumented immigrants are caught in the Rio Grande each day overwhelming Border Patrol agents and overcrowding holding facilities.
"The Border Patrol is overwhelmed they don't have the manpower to deal with the immigrants," Texas State Senator Chuy Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa said drug smugglers are taking advantage of this "humanitarian crisis."
He confirms that's why the Department of Public Safety (DPS) will begin the surge in border counties starting this weekend.
"Gaps are being left open and cartels are taking advantage of it," he said.
It's a reason state leaders, including Hinojosa, approve millions of dollars in funding on Wednesday to ramp up DPS presence along the Texas border.
A letter by state leaders to the head of DPS states that this surge will help reduce crime and support the strained resources of local law enforcement.
Immigration advocates tell Action 4 state politicians are not addressing the real problem.
"It cant be an issue where we throw money at the enforcement of the border because this is not a border enforcement issue," John-Michael Torres, spokesperson for La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE), said.
Torres said state and federal leaders need to tackle the root of the illegal immigration issues.
"These people are fleeing violence in their countries, no amount of money thrown at the border will stop what they are fleeing from," he said.
The last DPS surge in the Valley included random checkpoints which immigration advocates protested claiming they violated civil liberties.
This surge will not include checkpoints and troopers will not be enforcing immigration laws.
"If this is the agency they want to throw millions of dollars at they need to ask themselves how is DPS going to change its interaction with the community, how is dps going to check itself to make sure its actually not ever stepping their boundaries," Torres said.
A DPS report of the 2013 surge shows that marijuana seizures went down by 49 percent and police pursuits went down by about 74 percent.
Is is unclear how the millions of dollars will be spent, but state leaders say the operation will continue through the end of this year.
A Border Patrol spokesman told Action 4 News the agency welcomes the additional manpower.
Most recent data shows about 180,000 undocumented immigrants have been apprehended in the Rio Grande Valley Sector this fiscal year.