Nov 18th - 3:43 pm
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.”
Aug 14th - 3:22 pm
While National Guard troops continue to train at Camp Swift, the head of one group of border business leaders says leave them where they are.
The president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce, Steve Ahlenius, wrote an open letter to Gov. Rick Perry this week. He’s asking the governor to reconsider his decision to send 1,000 troops to the border, saying they’re not needed. Ahlenius points out that the number of children crossing over has dropped since June, and he argues that the money could be better spent on things like local law enforcement and increased surveillance technology.
Ahlenius also argues the decision is bad for local business, saying:
“Additionally, deploying the Guard to the border sends the wrong image to 200 South Korean and Japanese companies who are considering moving manufacturing facilities to McAllen.”
Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children have crossed the border from Central America since October. The governor says National Guard troops won’t be authorized to arrest anyone crossing illegally. But he says they’ll assist border patrol by deterring immigrants and by referring border crimes to the Department of Public Safety.
Aug 13th - 7:45 pm
In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we shared more details on what the troop rollout will look like and whether the call for volunteers has been met. Plus, we checked in on the final day of the latest hearing over the state’s abortion law.
When it comes to the Congressional response to the border situation, the end result is still up in the air. Congressman John Carter joined us to explain his role in getting the House to react before lawmakers headed home for break.
Greg Abbott is fighting back in the governor’s race with an attack ad of his own, after Wendy Davis kicked off her television ad campaign criticizing Abbott for a ruling he made as a member of the Texas Supreme Court. The Quorum Report’s Harvey Kronberg joined us to analyze that and more.
Jul 31st - 11:43 am
In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we examined how much of the governor’s political comeback is due to his handling of the border issue.
How much better prepared is Gov. Perry for a possible presidential run now than he was in 2012? The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to address that question and more.
Between multiple committee hearings and a statewide tour on women’s health issues, it’s been a busy summer for Democratic Rep. Donna Howard. She joined us in-studio for an update on the issues she’s been involved in.
Jul 24th - 8:39 pm
In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we got an update from the Rio Grande Valley on how lawmakers are coping with both issues and how some say they’re related. Plus, we spoke to Julie Flanders of the group Justice For Our Neighbors about some of the legal hurdles immigrant children face even while they await their immigration hearings.
When it comes to Congress’s response to the border crisis, the partisan fighting hasn’t come as a surprise. But will doing nothing come back to haunt them in November? We sat down with Republican strategist Ted Delisi and Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Will Hailer to get their take.
FOSTER CARE QUESTIONS
The foster care system in Texas was back under the microscope Thursday, as lawmakers considered ways to reform how the Department of Family and Protective Services handles contractors who screen potential foster parents. We heard more about the issue from former caseworkers and foster kids who’ve seen the system up close.
And while we know UT Austin President Bill Powers will be stepping down in June, 2015, questions remain over the rocky relationship between Powers, the chancellor and some regents. We spoke to a former head of the UT Graduate Student Assembly, Michael Redding, to get his perspective.
Jul 23rd - 11:50 am
The fate of the Affordable Care Act is once again in the hands of the courts. A federal appeals court dealt a critical blow to a key component of Obamacare Tuesday. Then, just hours later, another panel ruled to keep the law in tact.
In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we explained how the decisions could put subsidies for health insurance at risk and what that could mean for nearly 600,000 Texans counting on them.
The surge of immigrant children continues, while Congressional action is delayed another day.
We spoke to Congressman Roger Williams about whether any legislative answer has a chance of passing.
Plus, Gov. Rick Perry has officially called in the cavalry to help DPS officials at the Texas-Mexico border. Is the move a practical solution or political stunt? Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi weighed in on that question and more.
Jul 21st - 8:07 pm
Gov. Rick Perry is calling for military backup to deal with the border crisis. The governor joined other state leaders Monday in announcing the deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border.
In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we sat down with Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to learn more about what role the troops will play, how the operation will be funded and the legal basis for the deployment.
While state Republicans are praising the move, others are calling it a “militarization” of the border and an unnecessary step. We spoke to Denise Gilman of the UT Law School’s Immigration Clinic, who says legal — not military — resources are needed more.
Plus, a high-profile activist gets reprimanded by the Texas Ethics Commission. The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg gave us the background on that story and more.
Jul 21st - 3:21 pm
Minutes after Gov. Rick Perry announced the details of a plan to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, Texas Democrats and border-area business leaders responded with criticism.
In a press release, the Texas Democratic Party characterized Perry’s decision as political posturing.
“Local law enforcement, elected officials, and faith and community leaders in the Rio Grande Valley have expressed concerned about militarizing the border, the need to create a short-term humanitarian solution, and solving the long-term need for comprehensive immigration reform. Today, Governor Rick Perry ignored those voices. While those in the Valley are working hard to care for thousands of children in need and demanding we fix our broken immigration system, Governor Perry is continuing his routine of photo-op politics to further his Presidential aspirations.”
Sen. Wendy Davis, who is running to replace Perry as governor, said that National Guard troops weren’t necessary. Instead, she said the real need is for additional law enforcement personnel and reiterated her call for a special session to discuss extra funding for local law officials dealing with the surge of immigrants.
“If the federal government won’t act, Texas must and will. However, we should be deploying additional deputy sheriffs to the border like local law enforcement is calling for rather than Texas National Guard units who aren’t even authorized to make arrests. Therefore, I reiterate my call for Governor Perry to immediately convene for an emergency legislative session to provide the resources to get additional law enforcement personnel on the ground immediately.”
Meanwhile, a group of business leaders in the Rio Grande Valley area is expressing concern about what effect the presence of National Guard troops will have on the local economy. They sent out a press release asking the governor to reconsider.
“Adding a military presence to our communities will only create an inaccurate image that our safe and viable border region in the Rio Grande Valley is dangerous, and that the problem is not presently being managed, which is not the case. This erroneous impression can harm our attempts to recruit new businesses. We respectfully ask the governor to rescind his orders to send the National Guard to the border.”
The group is made up of business leaders of the Rio Grande Valley and the Rio South Texas Economic Council. They pointed out new reports from the White House, which show that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border has dropped from 355 per day in June to about 150 children apprehended in the first two weeks of July.
Jul 21st - 3:00 pm
The governor has revealed more details of a plan to send 1,000 National Guard troops to the border, to act as a “force multiplier” for Department of Public Safety officers already there.
Gov. Rick Perry says the move, dubbed “Operation Strong Safety,” will cost approximately $12 million per month. Major General John Nichols of the Texas National Guard says troops will be authorized to detain people if necessary, but that he expects them to play a “deter and defer” role, meaning they will deter criminal activity and defer arrests to DPS officers.
DPS Director Steve McCraw said the focus of the operation is to combat crime driven by drug cartels, including homicide, sexual assault, robbery and extortion.
Attorney General Greg Abbott said his office is consulting with the governor’s office and the National Guard about “legal issues related to the deployment.”
The move is in response to the more than 50,000 immigrant children who have been detained at the Texas-Mexico border since October. Many of them are from Central America and come here unaccompanied by their parents.
Jul 14th - 7:56 pm
In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we looked at the response to the president’s plan for nearly $4 billion in emergency funds, and we outlined a bipartisan proposal from Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar.
PERRY VS. PAUL
Gov. Rick Perry is still in the national spotlight. This time, he’s trading blows with Rand Paul over foreign policy. Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report weighed in on the fight over Iraq, isolationism and even eyewear.
And the Texas Railroad Commission has tightened up its policy on media access. Has the agency overseeing the state’s oil and gas industry gone too quiet? We spoke with the Libertarian Party candidate for railroad commissioner, Mark Miller, to get his take.