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  1. #1
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    May 2006

    TX - Proposal for border security panel gets cool reception

    September 20, 2014 | Updated: September 20, 2014 1:15pm

    AUSTIN -- A proposal to create a bi-partisan border-security commission was aired on Saturday, as Texas' political leaders continued to disagree on the best way to secure the Lone Star State's 1,200-mile border with Mexico.

    Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples said his plan for a new Southwest Border Security Commission -- with a membership including five Republicans and five Democrats from Texas, New Mexico and Arizona -- would be to advise Congress and state legislatures on how best to address increasing public safety issues.

    Staples, who lost a bid to become Texas' next lieutenant governor in last spring's primary, had campaigned on increasing border security. He said the plan that he has proposed to Congress would bring together various state interests that are now not working closely enough together.

    "The commission could advise on a number of issues," he said, in announcing the plan at a morning session of TribFest, a political symposium. "It would get people talking, bring them together on this issue."

    The initial response from other officials on a panel about immigration and border security: Silence.

    The panel include U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, and Beto O'Rourke, D-El Paso; GOP Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Stave McCraw, director of the Texas Department of Pulic Safety.

    Afterward, Dewhurst labeled Staples' proposal "ridiculous," saying he could not support establishing a new federal agency.

    Staples said he proposed the formation of a commission to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, last May and is now taking the idea public as a way to remove the partisan gridlock on the issue in Washington and advance toward a solution that will benefit Texans.

    In a predictable discussion that at times became heated, and split mostly along partisan lines, the panelists disagreed on the best solutions for securing Texas' border -- and even whether a current law-enforcement surge including the National Guard that was ordered by Republican Gov. Rick Perry was needed.

    "There's no threat from ISIS or Hezbollah on the Southern border," O'Rourke said, citing testimony from top federal officials -- and challenging assertions from Texas' top Republican leaders that terrorist groups have been confirmed among the tens of thousands of border-crossers.

    Concern over that issue has been used to help justify the controversial surge now underway, at a cost to state taxpayers of well over $1 million a week. McCraw said it will continue until state leaders order it stopped.

    McCraw said that 1,997 apprehensions of undocumented immigrants were logged during rthe 11th week of the surge, compared to 6,606 in the first week. He attributed that to the fact that Texas law enforcement officers, supplemented nuy National Guardsmen who are working surveillance and suppoprt posts, are "saturating" a 120-mile segment of the border in the Rio Grande Valley where most of the criminal trafficking issues have been found.

    "Everytime there's a problem everyone blames the immigrants," Cuellar said, insisting that immigration reform needs to be addressed in Washington as a part of any long-term border-security solution. ""We just can't demonize these folks.

    O'Rourke said Texas' border is safe and said the Guard is unneeded, comments that Dewhurst labeled as "delusional." Dewhurst has been a champion of the ramped-up Guard and DPS presence along the border "to do the job that our federal government has refused to do."

    Bristlying at critics' suggestions that the Guard surge is just a "political stunt," Dewhurst said, "nothing could be further from the truth. . . Since 2008, there have been 640,000 arrests on the border. Considering the known cartel activity along that border and crime, that's a big problem, my friend."

    Challenged for details by O'Rourke and others about potential terrorist activity along the border, McCraw cited a recent case where a Chiese gang was engaged in criminal activity with a Mexican drug cartel and Texas prison gangs including the Mexican Mafia, Tango Blast and the Aryan Botherhood. He gave no further details.

    Staples cited a case where three Ukranian border-crossers were apprehended in Brewster County, at another point on the border east of El Paso, and a border immigration where a dictionary in Urdu, the major language in Pakistan, was seized.

    Dewhurst said "prayer rugs were found in the brush" in another border case, apparently referring to a Muslim prayer rug, and a note that was found in another: "I'll see you in New York."

    No further details on any of those cases were given.

    Cuellar and O'Rourke said while any possible terrorist links must be pursued, enforcement authorities need to be careful not to use unsubstantiated information to justfy the surge -- or to unfairly label the border as dangerous and overrun with criminal activity. They said it hurts economic development efforts and is unfair to border residents.

    McCraw said a strong law enforcement presence is a key to curbing the significant criminal elements that have been using a loosely secured border to their benefit, including not just uniformed enforcement personnel on the ground but white-collar investigators such as the FBI, as well.

    "It takes boots and wing-tips," he said, the latter term referring to dress shoes that once were a trademark businessman's shoe style for FBI agents.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    I take exception to Mr. Cueller telling me what my attitude is to be. That certainly goes against freedom of choice, freedom of conscience, and limits my personal freedoms considerably. Mr. Cueller, I am American, and yes, I do take it personally when legislators try to tell me what to think!!

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