Governor Rick Perry visited Houston Thursday to introduce the Ranger Recon Team, a new border security task force aimed at beefing up the Texas-Mexico border from cartel violence spilling over into U. S. cities.
Gov. Perry cited two occurrences of violence along the Texas-Mexico border in the last week in his address, including bullets that shut down the UT-Brownsville campus and an El Paso kidnapping where the victim's dismembered body was found in Mexico.
The new dream team enlists "highly trained" Texas Rangers, Texas military forces, DPS troopers and local law enforcement who will be deployed to high-traffic, high-crime rural border areas.
"Our philosophy is based on putting boots on the ground. We know that's what will work. Equipping those vigilant professionals with the technology and the training and the funding. That is how you stem the tide of contraband," Perry says.
However, state-of-the-art technology, training and funding has not resulted in success for Gov. Perry's Virtual Border Watch program.
In 2008, the Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition was allotted $2 million for the Virtual Border Watch program. The project was deemed unsuccessful by most after its first year of operation.
The El Paso Times reported in July that 125,000 people participated in the virtual border watch program, which led to eight drug busts, 11 arrests and 300 reports of illegal entry into the U. S. Those numbers fell short of the projected 1,200 arrests and 4,500 undocumented-migrant apprehensions.
That didn't deter Governor Perry from requesting additional federal funding for The Texas Border Sheriffs' Coalition. In the press conference Thursday, he also expressed frustration at the feds for not providing the 1,000 Texas National Guard troops he's been requesting since January.
The federal government? Yes, the same federal government from which Governor Perry refused to accept stimulus funds. And the same federal government from which Governor Perry than accepted more than $12 billion just a few months later to balance the state budget.
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When told that Kay Bailey Hutchinson called his border security plan nonsense, Governor Perry said, "I think it's the height of hypocrisy that someone that's been in Washington DC for 16 years, who's had the opportunity to help Texas on our border security and they've been no more successful in delivering the resources and the help...Please do that job up there first before you come down here and start criticizing the state of Texas."
Hmmm. Sounds like someone's got a soft spot.
But Hutchinson's plan to implement 287g statewide is not faring criticism any better. The two biggest complaints about 287g are that local law enforcement would be doing ICE paperwork instead of protecting citizens and that the law has enabled the human abuses; the worst-case scenario being Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who will be in Houston this Saturday at Marriott Westchase (9 a.m.) courtesy of Border Watch.
Whatever the Ranger Recon Team results, this gubernatorial election season is well underway.