Immigration

Gov. Perry Details Cost, Scope of National Guard Operation at Border

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.

 

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers Respond to President’s Plan for Immigrant Kids

Lawmakers in Washington are pushing back against the president’s request for funding to deal with the surge of immigrant children, and suggesting ideas of their own.

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.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

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.

Capital Tonight: Texas Democrats Renew Call for Obama to Visit Border

With rolled up sleeves, the President leaned on the podium and asked the audience to choose hope over cynicism during his only public speech in Austin Thursday. Then, he went on to lambaste House Republicans for nearly half an hour over what he called partisan politics in Congress.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, looked at the highlights of the president’s speech, including his handling of two protesters calling for immigration reform.

FOCUS ON THE BORDER

While the president hoped to turn the conversation toward the economy, plenty of elected officials in Texas are happy to keep talking about border issues. We heard what state leaders in town for an education conference had to say. Plus, Congressman Henry Cuellar explained his recent criticism of the president in a one-on-one interview.

REGENTS RESPOND

While most of the focus was on President Obama Thursday, many here in Texas are still tracking the ongoing tension surrounding UT Austin President Bill Powers. UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa accepted Powers’ resignation only yesterday, meaning the head of UT’s Austin campus will be staying on until June 2015. But that doesn’t mean things are completely resolved. We checked in on the fight over UT leadership.

Capital Tonight: While Politicians Debate Border Issues, Volunteers Step In

The buzz surrounding President Barack Obama’s Texas trip is getting louder, amid calls for him to see the situation at the border while he’s in the state. After much back and forth, he and Gov. Rick Perry have worked out plans to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Dallas, along with some of the volunteer groups who have been helping Border Patrol handle the influx of undocumented children.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how the Salvation Army and other groups are helping, and why they say the influx of immigrants goes beyond politics. Plus, we spoke to Rep. Dan Flynn about the call for UT Austin President Bill Powers to resign

CAPITAL COMMENTATORS

Political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi joined us to talk about Perry, the president and the border crisis, along with how the location of hazardous materials in Texas is playing into the governor’s race.

CANDIDATE CONVERSATION

Republican Ken Paxton had to fight his way to the Republican nomination for attorney general. Now, the Democratic candidate for that office is making sure the general election is even tougher. Sam Houston joined us to talk about his run to be the state’s top lawyer.

Gov. Perry Agrees to Meet with President Obama in Dallas

After declining a handshake on the tarmac in Austin, Gov. Rick Perry has agreed to meet with President Barack Obama in Dallas tomorrow, as part of a roundtable discussion on immigration issues.

The back-and-forth over whether the two would meet started last week, when Gov. Perry publicly suggested the president should tour the Texas-Mexico border and see for himself the more than 52,000 unaccompanied immigrant children who have been detained by the U.S. Border Patrol since October. White House spokesman Josh Ernest officially declined that offer from Washington, saying “the president is very aware of the situation that exists on the southwest border.”

On Monday, Gov. Perry declined a previous offer to greet Obama at the airport when he arrives in Austin for a fundraising trip. Instead, the governor suggested a “substantive meeting” on immigration. Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett responded by inviting Perry to a Wednesday border meeting with faith leaders and local officials in Dallas

Gov. Perry’s team accepted the offer and sent out a response framing it as a concession by the president:

“Governor Perry is pleased that President Obama has accepted his invitation to discuss the humanitarian and national security crises along our southern border, and he looks forward to meeting with the president tomorrow.”

President Obama has called the situation at the border a “humanitarian crisis.” The White House has warned that most of the children arriving at the border will be deported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Capital Tonight: What’s Next for UT President Powers?

The fate of University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers is back in the spotlight. The UT System Chancellor and the Board of Regents are set to meet this week and discuss how to handle Powers’ refusal to resign by year’s end.

In Monday’s Capital Tonight, we heard how Powers and his supporters are responding.

BORDER DEBATE

Meanwhile, the political rhetoric on the border keeps getting hotter, with Republicans and Democrats criticizing the president’s response. We checked in on the latest on that story, plus state Rep. Tony Dale joined us in-studio for an update on the state’s response.

 

ON THE AGENDA

The Quorum Report‘s Harvey Kronberg joined us to give his take on the day’s political news.

Capital Tonight: Washington Comes to Texas for Border Hearing

Border issues have been dominating the conversation in Washington lately, so on Friday, Washington came to the border. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas led a meeting of the House Homeland Security Committee in McAllen, where many of the 52,000 undocumented children have been detained since the beginning of this year.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we heard the latest in the debate over how to respond to the problem and who foots the bill.

BORDER POLITICS

There are plenty of questions about what caused the border crisis, but perhaps the biggest one is whether an immigration reform bill would have made a difference. Scott Braddock of the Quorum Report joined us to give his perspective.

CONVENTION FACT-CHECK

And the state Democratic convention brought out some bold claims from both Republicans and Democrats. Gardner Selby of PolitiFact Texas and the Austin American-Statesman joined us to sort rhetoric from reality.

Abbott Threatens to Sue Feds over Illegal Immigration

Attorney General Greg Abbott says he’s planning to file a new lawsuit against the federal government over its handling of the border.

Abbott revealed his plans in an interview with Brietbart Texas, a conservative news website. His office later confirmed it with Capital Tonight. This isn’t the first time the state has threatened to sue the federal government over illegal immigration. In the 1990s, the state filed and lost a lawsuit to recover money spent on education, medical and jail costs stemming from immigrants.

This time, it appears the lawsuit would deal specifically with costs of the latest immigrant influx.  In a statement, the AG’s office said:

The State of Texas is exploring any and all options, including litigation, to address the crisis our federal government has created by not living up to their Constitutional responsibility.  If the federal government is unwilling to secure the border, the State of Texas will be forced to resort to litigation to recoup the costs incurred to respond to this crisis.

Jerry Strickland with the AG’s office said Attorney General Abbott is still waiting to hear back about a request for more federal funding for last month’s surge of state law enforcement at the border.