10/13/2005 this is the same Governor that said he can't prevent the minutemen on the border....now he wants the National Guard on the border????? Posse Commitatus violation....big time....
- Perry shifts $10 million to sheriffs on border
AUSTIN -- Border sheriffs will get nearly $10 million in state grants to implement a new border security plan, Gov. Rick Perry said Wednesday.
"With more than 1,200 miles of border shared with Mexico, Texas is clearly at the center of the important debate about how best to secure our border," Perry said.
The grant money will support Operation Linebacker, a plan by the Texas Border Sheriff's Coalition to place more deputies along the border and beef up security. Perry's six-point plan also includes money for technology and disaster response. Some local officials, though, worry the plan could trample the civil rights of border residents.
Although Perry has repeatedly said border security is a federal responsibility, he said Texas can't wait for Congress to take action. His spokesman, Robert Black, said the governor plans a trip Friday to El Paso to discuss border security.
When border sheriffs unveiled the plan last month, they said it would cost about $30 million over the first year and called on Congress to ante up.
The $9.7 million from state grants would allow sheriffs to hire more deputies, pay for additional overtime and fund more investigators to stem violent crime in border areas.
Local lawmakers and migrant advocates said Perry's plan would not reduce illegal immigration or increase security. They worried it would worsen racial profiling and violate Texans' rights.
"The reality is, unless we put a wall up between Mexico and the U.S., until immigration laws are reformed so people can come here legally, none of this is going to make us safe," said Ouisa Davis, executive director of Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services.
Texas Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, said Perry's plan and those like U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, introduced last week to allow local police officers to patrol the border area prick memories of a sad, racist legacy. Shapleigh said the police officers will be unfamiliar with and unequipped to deal with the unique Texas border culture.
"We are, in fact, taking away real constitutional rights of Americans all along the border," Shapleigh said.
El Paso County Sheriff Leo Samaniego is a member of the coalition and helped develop the plan, but he refused to comment Wednesday on how it would be implemented locally.
"This money is going to be well spent," Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez said, adding that the money was available to the coalition immediately, and sheriffs would use the money to pay officers overtime for border patrol within the next two weeks.
Gonzalez said Congress must provide about $21 million for the operation to be successful. Kira Maas, a spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Sylvestre Reyes, D-El Paso, said he is working with U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, on legislation that would provide that money.
The governor's plan also calls for the Texas Department of Public Safety to form four teams of 50 troopers to be deployed during border emergencies and to assign 54 criminal investigators to the border region.
Perry also said state legislators should approve legislation allowing investigators to use wiretaps more often to help track and dismantle groups that support terrorism and violent crime.
Brandi Grissom may be reached at bgrissom@ elpasotimes.com; (512) 479-6606.