State focuses on tougher border enforcement
By Lynn Proctor Windle,Managing Editor
(Created: Thursday, May 29, 2008 3:38 PM CDT)
Even though controlling illegal immigration should not be the state’s responsibility, the $110 million the state has spent on the problem has proved to be a wise investment, a local state representative said following his second trip to the border.
During his second fact-finding trip to research the severity of the illegal immigration problem along the border, State Rep. Thomas Latham said he continues to hear the same horror stories from ranchers and law enforcement agents.
Dealing with property destruction, trash, disease and threats from armed illegal militia have become routine for Texans who live along the Border, Latham said.
So far Texas has spent $110 million expanding law enforcement efforts, the representative said.
“Texas shouldn’t have to do that. Texas shouldn’t have to spend the money, but if we’re going to spend it has to be spent effectively,” he said.
So far, the investment seems to be paying off. Boarder crime is down by 60 percent. Law enforcement officers are better armed with better weapons and advanced crime-fighting tools such as night vision equipment, scopes that can peer into gas tanks and stud-finder-like devices that can measure tire density. Even game wardens are armed more heavily, he said.
Still more can be done. Though Latham will not return to Austin during the next legislative session, he is calling on colleagues to introduce measures to provide grants to counties to cover the full cost of additional personnel for three or four years.
Typically, similar grants cover only partial costs for shorter periods.
The Sunnyvale Republican said he also would like to see stricter identification requirements for obtaining a Texas driver’s license or state-issued identification card. And state-issued IDs should show proof of U.S. citizenship, he said.
Currently getting a driver’s license or state ID card requires “proof of identity satisfactory to the department,’ according to the Texas Department of Public Safety documents.
Texas is so lax in handing out driver’s licenses that many illegal aliens obtain their licenses here, and then use them to get drivers licenses in states that have tougher initial requirements.
Nationwide, Latham said he has heard that at 1,500 bills will be introduced in various state legislatures across the county because the federal government will not deal with the issue, he said.
At least 30 of those bills will be introduced in Texas alone, he said.
Some bills propose crackdowns on money wires sent from Texas to Mexico, charging an 8 percent surcharge on each transaction. Billions of dollars sent by Mexican nationals leave the United States each year, making it Mexico’s second largest industry after tourism, Latham said.
Other bills would remove illegal aliens from welfare rolls and make them ineligible for food stamps.
More extreme measures would prohibit children born in this state to illegal aliens from being recognized as citizens. This measure is specifically designed to set up a court battle to challenge the constitutionality of automatically granting citizenship to everyone born in the United States.
This would eliminate the problem of the so-called anchor babies that open the door for illegal aliens to collect state and federal benefits.
Latham also said would like to see more money spent on awareness campaigns geared toward Americans who participate in human trafficking.
Latham said it’s common for truck drivers with empty rigs to earn easy cash for bringing people across the boarder. Most who participate do not realize they could get jail time and fines for participating, but few realize that they also could loose their commercial driver’s licenses.
Latham said that if these people realized all the consequences they face, they might not be so quick to participate.
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