Last month, more than 46,000 people were apprehended trying to cross into Texas from Mexico. That’s up from 39,500 in September.
The director of Department of Homeland Security says the reassigned agents will work in the Rio Grande Valley at immigrant processing centers to handle a fresh surge.
Jay Root with the Texas Tribune says the state is tapping U.S. Border Patrol agents to ride around with state troopers and patrol on their own. They’re also doing a lot of paperwork.
“The people that you send down there are not running and catching people [crossing the border],” Root says. “They’re processing them, they’re taking their belongings, putting them in plastic bags. [They are giving] them a notice to appear in court and then letting them go.”
In part, this is due to a large number of the people crossing the border asking for asylum from the U.S.
“The reason why we have so many people coming, particularly to the Rio Grande Valley … is that most of these people are from Central America, and Central America is a basket case right now,” Root says. “We don’t pay much attention to it, but these people are coming here and they’re turning themselves in to border patrol agents. They’re not running.”
Apart from this most recent surge at the border, Root says Texas lawmakers are seriously considering the effect a Trump presidency will have on border relations in the state.
“This has turned everything upside down,” he says.
Texas might spend less on the border in the not-too-distant future, Root says. It’s akin to Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton’s shift on suing the U.S. government. With a Trump presidency, the government belongs to the Republicans, Root says.
“[Lawmakers are] cautious in the sense that who know what’s going to happen,” Root says. “If you don’t have to spend a billion dollars at a time when they’re looking for every available dime, this could be the ticket.”
But Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the border could be a more complicated issue in Texas, Root says. Much of the existing fencing along the border is in New Mexico, Arizona and California – although there are some pieces spread out in Texas.
“It’s not a popular idea to go in and take people’s land away,” Roots says. “It’s private ownership in Texas, whereas in those other states, a lot of it is publicly owned land. We don’t have publicly owned land along the border to the extent that other states do. So this is a politically difficult decision to make.”
Post by Beth Cortez-Neavel.