Texas lawmakers are questioning the heads of state agencies about the overall cost analysis related to the influx of border crossings.
The legislative committee is charged with determining the short-term and potential long-term financial impact that could cost taxpayers $17 million per month.
The House Select Committee on the Fiscal Impact of State Border Security Operations was set up to study what the influx of Central American migrants is costing state agencies. State Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, questioned Department of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw about when he could say the state-led surge has been successful.
“The way I view it is that when the numbers in the Rio Grande Valley go below 2,000 illegal aliens a week, that’s the intended objective to achieve that,” McCraw said.
McCraw said in the first week the DPS detained over 6,000 people coming across the Texas border, the following week that dropped by 45%.
The DPS has spent just over $5 million since the Operation Strong Safety surge began.
Turner and others on the select committee questioned whether deploying Gov. Rick Perry’s deployment of the Texas National Guard is actually necessary at this point.
“If those things are being driven down right now, what is the cost-beneficial analysis of sending an additional 1,000 troops down there if the numbers are being reduced,” Turner said.
The state estimates it will cost $12 million per month to deploy the Texas National Guard to the Rio Grande Valley.
Both Republicans and Democrats on the select committee questioned whether sending the National Guard to the Rio Grande Valley is cost-effective. Maj. General John Nichols, head of the Texas National Guard, said they are planning to be on the border through December 2014.
The select committee also looked at the financial impact for the state’s health and human services department regarding immunizations and how much it would cost to integrate the unaccompanied minors into the state’s public education system.
– Ryan Poppe, Texas Public Radio News