By Brian Collister
AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas lawmakers are expected to decide this week just how many more hundreds of millions of your tax dollars they will spend on more border security.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has asked for an additional billion dollars, but Senate and House members are still hashing out exactly how much they’ll agree to approve.
This is despite the lack of hard evidence the border surge is effective.
KXAN Lead Investigator Brian Collister first reported last November that very few arrests made by troopers along the border are for drug and human smuggling.
DPS troopers line the highways of Hidalgo and Starr counties, as part of the state’s billion dollar border surge. A former trooper, who served along the border spoke to KXAN on the condition he would not be named. “Troopers go down there and they sit in their car for 10 to 12 hours, watch movies, sleep. They don’t want to be down there,” said the former trooper.
But if DPS gets the additional funding it wants, another 250 more troopers will be hired for the border. “Well, it’s not worth it,” the ex-trooper continued. “It’s a huge mess down there, it looks pretty whenever they show you a couple of things that happened. But it’s ineffective.”
Lawmakers have depended on DPS to explain how effective its efforts have been.
A former border patrol agent who leads the National Center for Border Security and Immigration at UT El Paso has never once been asked a single question by the legislature.
This may be why. “No, I do not believe this border surge is effective, just simply, the metrics don’t play that out,” said Victor Manjarrez. “The things that they’re using as their own report card, they’re not meeting those objectives.”
The border security experts says DPS is using the wrong metrics and state lawmakers are not asking the right questions to determine whether the billion spent so far has made a real difference.
“Absolutely no, no. We are not getting our money’s worth,” said Manjarrez. Still others, including lawmakers and law enforcement, defend the surge.
“We support the state. It’s important for the state of Texas, it’s important for this country for border security,” said A.J. Louderback with the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas.
DPS gets the bulk of funding, not sheriffs’ departments fighting border crime in their own back yards. “As Texas sheriffs, we want to be a partner in the protection of our state,” said Louderback.
And lawmakers continue to dodge questions about whether they’re spending your money wisely.
KXAN reached out to Senator Brian Birdwell, who pushed border security funding, to find out when lawmakers will approve metrics created by DPS to measure border success, but we got no answer.