As the humanitarian crisis at Texas’ southern border intensifies, Austin city officials allocated over $800,000 tax dollars to fund illegal aliens’ legal defense in their 2022-2023 budget proposal.

Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk announced the $5 billion budget proposal earlier this month. Cronk highlighted the measure’s effect on taxpayers and released a handout explaining how the budget would “promote resiliency and mitigate climate change by investing in disaster-response infrastructure, community preparedness programs, and efforts to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions.”

The multi-billion-dollar budget proposal also includes $880,000 for “immigrant legal assistance services.” This is a $250,000 increase compared to last year’s budget.

Austin began defending illegal migrants in 2016 when City Councilman Greg Casar, a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, proposed financing the legal defense of 100 illegal border crossers with tax dollars. After the measure passed in a 7-2 vote, the city contracted non-profit Catholic Charities of Central Texas to assist illegal migrants in seeking asylum, requesting visas, and fighting deportation.

The following year, Austin city council members approved an additional $200,000 grant for Catholic Charities. The organization described how extra funds would provide legal assistance for 50 additional illegal border crossers per month, up from the 140 they were already assisting.

Austin city officials soon found themselves entangled in legal battles with the state government. After Austin and several other Texas cities declared themselves “sanctuary cities” for illegal migrants, state lawmakers passed Senate Bill 4. The legislation allowed law enforcement to ask detainees their immigration status and instituted penalties for any local official who adopted measures interfering with the enforcement of Texas’ immigration laws.

Austin then joined their fellow “sanctuary cities” and filed a lawsuit against Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Although the law was temporarily blocked from going into effect, a federal appeals court upheld most of the legislation in early 2018.

As Austin officials continued including provisions for illegal migrants in their yearly budget over the next few years, the crisis at Texas’ southern border worsened.

In May 2022, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) recorded a record-breaking number of illegal migrants. The group documented 239,416 encounters at the southern border, a two percent increase from the previous month. So far this year, CBP has logged over 1.7 million arrests along Texas’ border.

As the humanitarian crisis intensifies, Austin city officials continue spending thousands of taxpayer dollars on measures encouraging migrants to illegally cross Texas’ southern border and face potentially deadly consequences.

Austin’s City Council will begin ratifying the 2023 budget on August 17. Concerned citizens can register to speak at two Community Budget Input meetings on July 27 and August 2.

Katy Drollinger

Katy is eager to use her skills in writing and research to accurately report on issues for Texas Scorecard. She graduated from Tarleton State University in 2021 after majoring in history and minoring in political science.

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