SAN ANTONIO – The Border Trade Alliance and Texas Border Coalition today urged extreme caution in the call for the Texas Department of Public Safety to execute a so-called “surge” in enforcement along the Texas-Mexico Border.
In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and state House Speaker Joe Straus, the two organizations acknowledged the need for security along the border, but expressed concern that the surge could negatively affect legitimate cross-border trade and travel, which are critical to border communities’ economic health.
“Such a surge in law enforcement operations could have the distinct potential of ensnaring border citizens going about normal travel with no intention of traveling to Mexico, creating traffic congestion and diminishing border communities’ quality of life,” the organizations wrote.
“We have to be very careful when it comes to executing a state-directed enforcement strategy along our border with Mexico,” BTA Chairman Jesse Hereford said. “Texas DPS must be sensitive the unique needs of border communities. Cities from El Paso to Brownsville cannot support a strategy that could hamper cross-border commerce or put at risk Texas’ ranking as the nation’s top exporting state. Security is a major concern, but so is the need to maintain an efficient trade relationship across the Rio Grande.”
The organizations do not rule out the possibility that there is a role for Texas law enforcement to play a productive role in the border region.
“We would recommend that DPS search for ways to partner with Customs and Border Protection in a support role, for example in southbound inspections,” Hereford said. “As we wrote in our letter, we don’t want to spark an unnecessary intergovernmental turf battle between state and federal agencies.
In addition to the chairmen of both organizations, the letter was signed by leaders in Rio Grande City, El Paso, Eagle Pass, Weslaco and Cameron County.