AUSTIN (Nexstar) — As a barricade of state trooper vehicles remains along the Del Rio border, Texas lawmakers are searching for better solutions to prevent migrants from crossing illegally.
The House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee met Thursday to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Del Rio, where at one point nearly 15,000 mostly Haitian migrants waited to be processed under a bridge.
Republicans on the committee mostly shifted blame on the Biden administration, saying it took the action of Texas state troopers to ease the influx of migrants by creating a physical barrier with their cars.
“Who’d ever thought they’d be down at the border doing somebody else’s job?” Rep. Cole Hefner, R-Mount Pleasant, asked rhetorically.
Director of the Texas Department of Public Safety Steven McCraw said it makes the state “less safe” when state troopers have to be redirected down to the southern border, instead of performing normal duties.
“The U.S. Congress and the federal government — bipartisan failure — has failed to provide the resources the border patrol needs to secure the border. And the impact is that Texas is less safe as a result of that,” he testified.
McCraw said it’s been an issue “decades in the making.”
Aside from resources, McCraw said the Texas-Mexico border needs more deterrents, like temporary fencing, to stop people from crossing.
“With deterrents they don’t come across to begin with, cause you’ve got a barrier there. We just put in a very expensive mobile barrier,” he said in reference to the DPS vehicles.
Other state lawmakers, like Rep. Eddie Morales, D-Eagle Pass, disagrees with the notion more resources will solve a complex problem.
He pointed out during the hearing many immigrants who successfully get into the United States illegally, later find jobs.
“Texas should take the lead and pass a bill that says, ‘…all these different businesses, you hire somebody here illegally, we’re going to fine you.’ It’s going to be a state fine, and we’re going to charge you until you stop doing it,” Morales said. “At least they’ll stop coming to Texas, right? But we got to start setting the example; we de-incentivize. That’s how we do it.”
Lawmakers did not discuss any legislation about this during the committee hearing, because it is an interim committee but used the hearing as an opportunity to hear from stakeholders and discuss potential solutions for future legislative sessions.