Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott and Democrat U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar joined forces in a bi-partisan effort to stop President Obama’s administration from cutting border security resources along the U.S./Mexico border.
The call comes in a letter from the two Texas leaders to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson in the wake of his department’s plan to cut aerial resources that support Border Patrol and law enforcement operations along the border. The cuts apply to a program known as Operation Phalanx, according to a joint statement from the two leaders obtained by Breitbart Texas.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has gutted its request for support from the Department of Defense by 50 percent for this calendar year compared to the most recent years. The DHS requested a total of 3,850 hours of persistent aerial detection, situational awareness, and monitoring capability, the letter from the two Texans said.
In contrast, Texas has actually requested additional aerial support from the federal government. That request was made in a letter dated September 30, 2015 that has since gone unanswered.
“Any decrease in aerial observation is not only imprudent, but contradicts the very mission of border security enforcement,” Abbott and Cuellar wrote in today’s letter. “In order to ensure we are doing everything possible to effectively secure the border, we request immediate information on the metrics used to determine that a 50 percent reduction in aerial resources would be sufficient to support this important border security operation.”
“Border security is a top priority for our state, and since 2005, Texas has committed nearly $1.7 billion in state funds for border security,” they continued. “In addition, the State of Texas provides extensive manpower, resources and oversight in support of Operation Phalanx through the Texas National Guard.”
The 2015 Texas Legislature appropriated more than $800,000 for border security over the next two years, Breitbart Texas previously reported. “We are doing this because border security has turned out to be a real challenge for the people of this state, not just on the border region but across communities across the entire state of Texas,” Abbott said during the bill signing ceremony held in Houston.
Earlier on Monday, Breitbart Texas reported that U.S. Customs and Border Protection had announced a test program to fly predator drones out of a civilian airfield located in San Angelo, Texas. It is not known if this program is intended by DHS to supplant some of the cuts in service from the Defense Department.
“It is our expectation that the federal government similarly fulfill its obligation when it comes to securing the border,” Abbott and Cuellar concluded. “As you know, Congress, in the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriation bill, fully funded DOD to support Operation Phalanx at a level similar to that of years past.”
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and is a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter@BobPriceBBTX.