As the summer heats up and the border crisis worsens under the scorching South Texas sun, Kinney County Attorney Brent Smith is urging Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick to create a state border security agency in a special legislative session.
“For Texans living on the border, words cannot adequately describe the conditions on the ground,” said Smith in a letter to the governor. “I cannot stress the importance of passing legislation that creates an effective state agency tasked solely with border security.”
Following lawmakers’ failure to pass meaningful border security legislation during the regular legislative session, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott included a call for “legislation solely for the purpose of increasing or enhancing the penalties for certain criminal conduct involving the smuggling of persons or the operation of a stash house” during the first special session.
However, according to Texans for Strong Borders President Chris Russo, “enhancing penalties for human smuggling alone will not solve the crisis facing our state and nation, particularly in the aftermath of Title 42 and the Biden administration’s abuse of humanitarian parole and the CBP One app.”
HB 20 was killed by Republicans, added haphazardly to another border measure (House Bill 7), changed by the Senate, and then failed to make it out of the House and Senate conference committee before the regular session ended.
Meanwhile, Smith told the governor, “Folks on the border are desperate for an end to this nightmare.”
“The tools that are created to confront this border crisis ultimately determine the fate of Texas,” he added.
While Smith praised the work of DPS in interdicting criminals within Texas through Operation Lone Star, Smith told Lt. Gov. Patrick that “Abbott’s stated mission centers on the securement of the Mexican border itself.”
“DPS excels at what they are trained to do, which is criminal interdiction within the state of Texas,” Smith told Texas Scorecard. “However, securing the Texas border also requires taking the necessary measures to prevent unlawful entry. This will require a new tool for a task Texas has not had to undertake in almost 100 years since the formation of the U.S. Border Patrol in 1924.”
Smith called for the creation of a state agency to specifically address border security needs, as well as a dedicated agency head with the training and experience necessary to manage the ongoing invasion.
“The accomplishments that were recently achieved by the Border Tactical Unit in Brownsville are a game changer in our mission to secure the border,” said Smith. “This success is attributable to the governor’s border czar, Michael Banks, who performed this exact same mission for over 25 years with the Department of Homeland Security. … Banks’ experience and leadership enabled him to utilize the [Texas Military Department] and DPS to effectively stop all illegal crossings.”
Concerned citizens can contact their state officials using Texas Scorecard’s Elected Officials Directory.