From the diaries
Immigration reform will be the hottest issue at the 2014 Texas GOP Convention this week in Fort Worth. Immigration issues are Texas GOP's favorite sword to dive on and the Democrats are all too willing to sharpen the tip. The GOP's latest Comprehensive Immigration Reform plan is known as "The Texas Solution." Any time politicians say the word "Comprehensive," be wary. Likewise, we've all heard the well-worn statement of compromise, "If you can get fifty percent of the loaf, take it and get the other fifty percent later on." With the Texas Solution, you will see compromise with Democrats for an Amnesty/Guest Worker Program now and securing the border "later." Fifty-eight percent of babies born in Texas are Medicaid births. Fifteen years ago, Medicaid was two and a half percent of the budget. Today it's twenty-three percent, fueled largely by our unsecured border. Compromise will continue to be costly.
According to border watchdog group, www.USBorderPatrol.com, "...border violence against American citizens inside the United States has never been as high as it is today. Further, the threat is not just the gangs from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The threat is also from Middle Eastern individuals being moved from Central America through Mexico, into Texas, and into the rest of United States."
Recently, this issue hit close to home. One of my employees was having her wedding in a town located just eight miles north of the border. Two weeks before the wedding she pulled me and my wife aside and said, "I hate to say this but my fiancé and I fear for your safety if you come down here for the wedding. It's probably best that you not come."
Another recent media outlet reported that Lavoyger Durham, a rancher at the El Tule Ranch, has been calling for the state or federal government to erect a double layer fence that will turn people away. Until that time he puts out 55 gallon drums of water to keep them from dying on his ranch. "I'm trying to expose the killing fields of Brooks County," Durham stated.
In Brooks County, Texas, the number of burials of illegals who come here is bankrupting this small, rural county. Because of Texas’s failure to secure the border, counties adjacent to Mexico already spend a disproportionately high percentage of their budget on public safety. Now they're spending money they don't have on autopsies and burials.
The Texas GOP has lacked the resolve to close the border for fear they'll be seen as racist or hateful. What's humane or loving about allowing someone to die in the desert alone? What's humane or loving about being jammed into a crate and abandoned in a parking lot to die of heat stroke? An open border lures some of these most vulnerable human beings into what is often a death trap.
Just this week, a Texas House Member stated, "Texas is addressing the issue of our open borders. We're spending more money than we ever have on the problem." How many times have we heard Democrats say, "We just need to spend more money on (fill in the blank) if we want better results."? Securing our borders isn't about money alone; it's about resolve and leadership. If Israel can successfully secure its borders given the life or death threat it faces on a daily basis, then surely Texas can secure its borders. Texas has the right to secure its border and its future as well.
So what's the solution? Texas needs a layered approach to the problem. First, Texas should construct a double fence with a significant distance in-between them for border patrols to drive back and forth, along with mounted motion sensors. Second, Texas needs boots on the ground. Texas sends a disproportionately high number of its young men to Afghanistan and Iraq. When these warriors come home, they lose four things as soon as they get off the plane: unit cohesion, a sense of purpose, a sense of mission, and a job. The Center for Disease Control says that PTSD is no longer an epidemic; it is now a pandemic. When these young men are discharged from their Army or Marine units they should be assigned to the Texas State Guard with a mission to protect and secure the Texas border. Texas would invest in these young soldiers with a job and a mission while they are reintegrated into civilian life.
Are these the only ways to secure the Texas border? No, of course not. Securing the border can't be done by the wishes of Governor Perry alone. If the Texas Legislature under the current leadership of Joe Straus continues to turn its back on the situation, then the GOP will continue to pay the price for his failed leadership. Speak with anyone on the border - (Democrat or Republican) - and they will demand that Texas step up now and act. Texas is run by leaders elected under the Republican banner. This is happening on our watch and we'll be blamed for failure to act. Keeping Texas Red and keeping Texas secure go hand in hand when it comes to boldly and swiftly securing our border. The delegates at the 2014 Texas GOP convention should work to keep Texas safe and strong by prioritizing and securing Texas borders first and then, and only then, working towards a guest worker program.
Representative Steve Toth
Candidate for Texas Senate District 4