Border Security

Daily Digest | June 9

Our daily digest is a mid-day update on the stories we’re following in Texas politics today. Here’s what we’re watching:

The 5th Circuit Court in New Orleans has issued a ruling on the controversial 2013 abortion bill, HB2. The ruling, which can be read in full here, found much of the bill constitutional, exempting only the Whole Woman’s Health clinic in McAllen:

In plain terms, H.B. 2 and its provisions may be applied throughout Texas, except that Supreme Court precedent requires us to partially uphold the district court’s injunction of the ASC requirement as applied to the Whole Woman’s Health abortion facility in McAllen, Texas, and to uphold the district court’s injunction of the admitting privileges requirement as applied to Dr. Lynn when he is working at the McAllen facility.

The bill requires abortion clinics to meet the same standards as hospital-style surgical centers and mandates that a doctor have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the facility where he or she performs abortions. This ruling is a major win for those opposed to abortion in the legal challenge against the bill. Nancy Northup with The Center for Reproductive Rights released a statement saying:

“Again, women across TX face the near total elimination of safe & legal options for ending a pregnancy.”

Meanwhile, Governor Greg Abbott put pen to paper on the Legislature’s omnibus border security bill this morning. The Governor held a ceremony at DPS Headquarters in Houston. House Bill 11 would send more DPS troopers to the border, and would also create a multi-agency crime information center in Hidalgo County. Critics have raised concerns about over-militarizing the area. More than $800 million of this year’s budget plan has been set aside for border security, about twice as much as last session.

For all these stories and more, tune in to “Capital Tonight.” Our guest tonight is Laura Prather with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. She’ll give us her take on how legislation regarding government transparency fared this session. Plus, political strategist Harold Cook will look ahead to the road map for presidential candidates trying to win in 2016. Tune in to Time Warner Cable News, tonight at 7 and 11.

Perry orders state agencies to use E-Verify

Governor Rick Perry has reversed his stance on E-Verify.

He’s now ordering state agencies to use the system to make sure those applying for state jobs or working for contractors are in the country legally. Four years ago, Perry criticized the federal E-Verify system, saying it “would not make a ‘hill of beans’ difference when it comes to what’s happening in America.”

At a Wednesday news conference, the governor said the system has been improved. Under E-Verify, employers can enter in names and Social Security numbers of new hires. That will let them know whether they are citizens or have proper visas for employment.

At the news conference, Perry also took time to blast President Obama’s executive order on immigration. He says it will trigger a new flood of people illegally entering Texas from Mexico.

‘Big 3’ extend border surge

Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus have signed an agreement to extend the border surge through the end of August 2015.

Perry and other state officials said in a statement Tuesday that the’ll now await the approval of the Legislative Budget Board, which meets next month.

If members give the $86 million plan the go ahead, the move allows enhanced patrols by the Department of Public Safety, the Texas National Guard and other personnel to continue their response to a surge in immigrants entering illegally into the U.S. through the Rio Grande Valley.

Officials want to divert nearly $48 million in general revenue bonds and other monies to help cover the cost.

“Texas has proven beyond any doubt that this border can be secured, even if the federal government refuses to take the steps necessary to do so as required by the Constitution,” Perry said in a press release. “This agreement will ensure the hardworking men and women from DPS, the Texas National Guard and Texas Parks and Wildlife, who have been working with local and federal partners, have the resources they need to maintain a robust law enforcement presence along the border until the Legislature can act.”

According to the Governor’s Office, funds for DPS would include the addition of new shallow-water boats and other technological capabilities, “which would be used to extend tactical capabilities as well as the surge footprint beyond the Rio Grande Valley Sector.”