AUSTIN – Today State Representative Tony Dale (Cedar Park) participated in a press conference lead by Speaker Pro Tempore Dennis Bonnen with more than two dozen other representatives calling on the federal government to reimburse Texas for the more than half a billion state tax dollars that have been spent on securing our southern border.
By virtue of the constitution, securing the border the responsibility of the federal government. “When Washington fails to act, Texas pays the price,” said Speaker Pro Tem Dennis Bonnen (Angleton), who chairs the House Committee on the Fiscal Impact of Texas Border Support Operations.
“As state representatives, we take a solemn oath to uphold the constitution. So does Congress. It is time they live up to their sacred vow and their obligation to secure our borders,” said State Representative John Otto (Dayton). “They have a moral obligation to pay the price for failure on this front.”
Lawmakers noted several costs that have put Texas on the hook for $559 million in expenditures since January, 2013 on populations illegally in the country. These costs include:
$104,277,316 spent by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) on border surge operations to detect, deter and apprehend criminal activities by drug cartels and trans-national gangs;
$3,405,241 spent by Texas Parks and Wildlife to assist with patrolling hot spots along the border;
$37,211,923 spent by the Texas Military Forces in response to the governor’s order to deploy up to 1,000 members of the Texas National Guard;
$137,100,757 spent by county jails to incarcerate criminals aliens;
$205,092,350 spent by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to incarcerate criminal aliens in state prisons;
$72,108,476 to be spent by the Texas Education Agency on the education of unaccompanied minors from Central America who now reside in Texas. This figure does not include the education of children who came to Texas illegally with their family unit.
Lawmakers also noted they are seeking reimbursement for a conservative amount, noting that health care costs are not tracked by the federal government for these populations, nor are costs for educating children who entered illegally with their family unit.
“Texas is educating thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America at our own expense,” said Speaker Bonnen. “Virtually all of these children arrive in our schools years behind, speak English as a second language and qualify for free-and-reduced lunch. It costs more to educate these children, and Washington should do its part to meet these costs.”
Lawmakers also expressed concern that the president’s recent executive order will lead to a new wave of illegal immigrants once word travels throughout the Western Hemisphere.
“The problem will only get worse, and the cost will only go up from here,” said Representative Dale. “Absent a forceful response by leaders of both parties in Washington, we are expecting greater chaos at the border that the drug cartels and trans-national gangs will exploit. Washington must meet its obligation to secure the border, protect our country and communities, and pay the tab for their failure on this front.”
Earlier this week Governor Rick Perry also called on Congress to pass a bill to provide the resources necessary to secure our southern border. Governor Perry announced an executive order directing state agencies to use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of current and prospective employees. Representative Dale had already filed House Bill 183 earlier this month which would put language in statute similar to the Governor’s executive order. Dale praised Governor Perry for his leadership reaffirming Texas’ commitment to using all available tools to enforce the law in the the absence of adequate federal resources to secure the border.
State Representative Tony Dale is a member of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee, the House Select Committee on Child Protection and the House Energy Resources Committee. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.