July 18, 2017
The Trump Administration is providing funding for the Texas National Guard’s efforts to assist in securing the state’s border with Mexico. This follows more than three years of the Obama Administration’s refusal to help with any funding for Texas’ border security operations.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced the State would receive funding from the federal government to help support its efforts in Operation Secure Texas. Members of the Texas National Guard currently deployed to the Texas/Mexico Border will begin to transition to federal orders later this month, according to a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas from Governor Abbott’s office.
“The taxpayers of Texas have funded border security, a federal responsibility, for far too long,” Abbott said in a written statement. “I am grateful that the federal government and Congressional appropriators are stepping up and dedicating additional resources to provide for the safety and security of all Texans. The State of Texas also extends it gratitude to the men and women of the Texas National Guard and Department of Public Safety for their continued commitment to securing our border.”
Under this program, the federal government will spend $2.3 million to fund the Texas National Guard’s border security mission through the end of this fiscal year (September 30, 2107), according to information provided to Breitbart Texas by the Texas National Guard.
“It is important to note that this transition will also not affect (the) chain of command or operations for the mission, as transitioning service members will be in a Title 32 status,” Lt. Colonel Travis Walters told Breitbart Texas in response to an inquiry. “This means that while federalized, they will still fall under the command and control of the Governor. The unique, dual mission of the National Guard allows our Guardsmen to act as a bridge between our civilian agencies and the Department of Defense.” Colonel Walters serves as state public affairs officer for the Texas Military Department.
Congress authorized the funding under the FY17 Defense Appropriations Act. As part of that authorization, the National Guard will receive $19 million for the four border states (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California). The money will be utilized to “plan, coordinate, manage, and conduct additional training missions along the border to increase readiness,” Walters stated.
The mission of the Texas National Guard will not change. “The Texas Military Department is no stranger to the Southwest Border,” the colonel continued. “As such, over the last decade, we have worked with state, local, and federal agencies in support of state and federally funded.”
In July 2014, then-Governor Rick Perry ordered the deployment of the Texas National Guard and additional Texas Department of Public Safety troopers to the border region in the Rio Grande Valley Sector. Perry ordered the deployment to help with the flood of illegal immigrants, Unaccompanied Alien Children, and Family Unit Aliens that quickly overwhelmed federal resources along the border, Breitbart Texas reported.
During the 2015 session of the Texas Legislature, the issue of shifting the cost of securing the Texas border back to the federal government came up in a resolution passed in January. The resolution demanded “the United States Congress reimburse the state of Texas for the amount of non-federal money it appropriated to secure the Texas-Mexico international border,” Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) told Breitbart Texas at the time in response to an inquiry. “As Ronald Reagan once said, ‘a nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.’ Because the federal government has neglected its responsibility, our border with Mexico has been increasingly exploited by smugglers, human traffickers, and violent drug cartels.”
Estes continued, “The federal government has consistently chosen not to do its job. As a result, we have been forced to appropriate a great deal of state funding to maintain border security and protect the citizens of Texas. This resolution would ‘invoice’ the federal government for that money.”
Earlier this year, two influential U.S. House committee chairman, both from Texas, voiced their support for federal reimbursement of the expenses incurred by Texas taxpayers for border security expenses.
“The federal government’s failure to secure our borders has often forced border states like Texas to do the job for them and pick-up the tab,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady told Breitbart Texas in an exclusive interview. “I support Washington reimbursing Texas taxpayers for proven border security expenses.”
U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) also agreed on reimbursing Texas and other border states that have been forced to spend state taxpayer dollars to carry out the federal responsibility of securing the border. “Congress should reimburse Texas and every other border state that filled the dangerous gap created by President Barack Obama’s refusal to enforce our immigration laws,” Culberson told Breitbart Texas. “Fortunately, President Donald Trump will begin to vigorously enforce our immigration laws and secure our border.”
Their comments came after the Texas Legislature again called for reimbursement of border security costs from the federal government. Texas legislative leaders met on the second day of the new legislative session to ask for the reimbursement, Breitbart Texas reported. State Representative Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) told Breitbart Texas, “For years, Texas has stood in the gap where the federal government has failed. With a new administration coming into office, hope the tide will turn and Washington will do its duty so that Texas can devote its limited resources to priorities reserved to the states under federalism.”
Rep. Bonnen reported the State of Texas and local jurisdictions spent almost $3 billion for border security operations; incarceration of criminal aliens; healthcare; education; and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission costs. The Texas Department of Public Safety incurred the largest expense spending, $1,410,563,257 for additional manpower, equipment, and technology.
Texas State Representative Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) summed up the State’s position saying, “Texas is proud to have gone beyond the call of duty in defending America’s border, but we have done so at great cost to our taxpayers.”
The funding announced by Governor Abbott does not reimburse Texas for the nearly $3 billion spent on border security since 2014. It is not yet been reported what impact this will have on the $800 million the Texas Legislature authorized for border security for the next two years.