Texas Border Lawmakers Question Guard Deployment

Thanks to the AP for these quotes from a hearing in Mission, TX:

State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said the committee must ensure that state funds newly dedicated to help border sheriffs are well-used.

Mr. Hinojosa asked Gov. Rick Perry in May to create rules on how the sheriffs can spend the $367,500 awarded to each of 16 border counties under Mr. Perry’s “Operation Linebacker.”

His letter to Mr. Perry expressed concern that El Paso County Sheriff Leo Samaniego was using grant money to run roadblocks and raids aimed at ferreting out illegal immigrants. Sheriff Samaniego has denied that, saying his department’s checkpoints were part of a traffic safety program.

State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, said the panel also is concerned about National Guard deployment to assist the Border Patrol, which President Bush called for but is being directed by border state governors.

“We want to make sure they serve their purpose without impeding rights,” she said.

Cameron County Judge Gilberto Hinojosa testified that the deployment was perceived as a militarization. That could be upsetting to Mexican businessmen and shoppers who have made the Rio Grande Valley one of the top-performing retail areas in the U.S.

When Ms. Van de Putte asked how the Valley could maintain that status, Mr. Hinojosa said, “We certainly don’t do it by sending in the National Guard.” Note: the AP reports that Operation Linebacker is being “directed by border state governors”. But we challenge the AP to document that fact. Our own public information requests have yet to prove that the Governor has any role in Operation Jump Start other than issuing press releases saying that the operation is going “according to plan”. Would the AP do us the favor of asking the Governor for a copy of the plan? We’ve asked, and the Governor’s Office says it doesn’t have one.


SENATE
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING

COMMITTEE: Transportation & Homeland Security

TIME & DATE: 10:00AM, Tuesday, August 8, 2006

PLACE: Irving, Texas

CHAIR: Senator John Carona

___________________________________________________________________________
The Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security will meet on August 8, 2006, at 10 a.m. in the Irving Lecture Hall, Westin DFW Airport,
located at 4545 West John Carpenter Freeway in Irving, Texas, to consider the draft interim report and legislative recommendations of the Committee. To listen to audio from the July 26 hearing of the Texas Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security in Mission, TX, go to the Texas Senate website.

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