HOUSTON, Texas–A House Select Committee to look into the wide reaching costs of the Texas border crisis was created on July 2nd by the Texas House of Representatives. The committee will not only examine the costs to Texas associated with the massive influx of illegal immigrants, it will also look for potential avenues of reimbursement of these costs from the federal government.
Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus, recently announced a plan to direct the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to spend $1.3 million per week through the balance of the calendar year to pay for overtime and extra law enforcement boots and other resources on the ground in South Texas. The new committee, according to a press release obtained from the Speaker’s Office, will monitor the costs of these operations along with any other costs to the state as a result of this immigration surge.
The role of the committee is further defined by the Speaker to include evaluating any support Texas receives from the federal government as well as to study the impact of the influx on other resources available to local governments. The final assignment of the committee is to determine the long-term budgetary effects on the state’s efforts to keep Texan’s safe.
“It is important for legislators and the public to know the full impact of these operations,” said Speaker Straus (R-San Antonio) in the press release. “A comprehensive look at the costs and benefits associated with our investment in border security will be helpful as the House sets priorities for next year’s legislative session.”
In the official proclamation by Straus creating the committee (attached below) the speaker stated, “While the responsibility for securing the border rests exclusively on the federal government, failure to secure the border has resulted in a humanitarian issue that threatens the safety and economic stability of Texas citizens. To provide for the health and safety of its citizens, reduce crime, and support strained resources of local law enforcement and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the State of Texas has authorized the Texas Department of Public Safety to execute an operation of increased law enforcement in counties on the Texas-Mexico border.”
The committee is directed by order of the Speaker to:
1. Monitor the state’s and local governments’ response to the increased influx of immigrants entering Texas through the Texas-Mexico border, including measures taken by Texas to provide security and human services and potential increases in budgetary costs resulting from these measures;
2. Review and evaluate support Texas has received from the federal government to address this issue, including the use of additional federal funds in Texas, if authorized by Congress;
3. Study the short and long-term budgetary impact of the increased influx of immigrants on the costs of Texas’s border security operations, economic resources, and infrastructure, including the short and long-term impact on operations of local and state governments and agencies; and
4. Determine potential long-term budgetary costs associated with ensuring the health and safety of Texas citizens and the Texas economy.
According to the Speaker’s press release Speaker Pro Tempore Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) will chair the new House Select Committee on the Fiscal Impact of Texas Border Support Operations. Its membership will also include Reps. Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) Myra Crownover (R-Denton), Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), Donna Howard (D-Austin), Oscar Longoria (D-Mission), Marisa Márquez (D-El Paso), Sergio Muñoz, Jr. (D-Palmview), John Otto (R-Dayton), Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) and John Zerwas (R-Simonton).
“This committee will take a big-picture look at this immigration crisis,” the Speaker concluded. “Until the federal government gets a handle on the issue, the impact on our state will be real and far-reaching. By taking a close look at that impact now, the House will be prepared to address this issue in a thoughtful way.”
While the charge to the committee does suggest looking into health related costs associated with the surge of illegal immigrants, it is not clear if the committee will also address educational costs of any of the unaccompanied minors who might remain in Texas and then be educated in our public school system.
Bob Price is a staff writer and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.