In an ongoing effort to address serious concerns about the six Border Patrol Stations in North and West Texas, the offices of Rep. Mac Thornberry and other officials met with top officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Wednesday afternoon.
The meeting, organized by Thornberry's staff, included a number of Texas House and Senate offices, as well as Governor Perry's that share serious concerns about the station closure proposals. The Border Patrol presented the overview of its plan and then answered a variety of questions on the proposal, its origin, its goals, and its implementation. Officials stated that they estimate a budget savings of $1.3 million a year when the nine posts are closed. However, they also indicated the proposal could result in a cost of $2.47 million in Fiscal Year 2013 alone.
Thornberry rejected such estimates as "penny-wise and pound-foolish." He also noted, however, that "We have seen some progress on this issue, as Congress has just denied the Border Patrol's initial request to accelerate these station closures at this point." He continued, "Obviously, federal spending must be reduced, but border patrol and interior enforcement must be a national and economic security priority. We are working with Texas offices and others to make that as clear as we can."
West Texas law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and others have been vocal and unified in their opposition to any Border Patrol station closures.
Moore County District Attorney David Green says that he relies on Border Patrol agents as witnesses in prosecutions, which is something that other federal agents will not, or are reluctant to, do. Without a witness, he says that he cannot prosecute illegal aliens.
Amarillo Police Chief Robert Taylor echoed these sentiments, noting that local Border Patrol agents have provided "invaluable assistance" to Amarillo and the entire Panhandle area. Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas has urged, "Leave these guys here, they need to be here, they need to stay here, they have plenty of work right here for two guys to do."
North Texas officials are involved as well. Wichita Country Sheriff, David Duke, has also expressed his alarm at the proposed closures. "My concern is there are not enough Border Patrol resources throughout Texas, much less closing the six stations that are here. The closest station to Wichita Falls is in Dallas and it rarely had agents in Wichita Falls. If any Border Patrol Office is closed in Texas, this will allow the flow of illegal's from the border to all points across Texas to become open range for them to travel. Under the proposal, the Dallas station would be one of those to close.
"You do not have to be on -- or even near -- the border to see and feel the effects of illegal immigration on our local communities, and that is something we want to make sure the folks in Washington understand," said Thornberry. "I continue to hear from law enforcement officials across our area and the state that these closures will have a detrimental effect on our local communities. I want to make sure Border Patrol is aware of their concerns and mine as well," he continued.
The Congressman is following up with questions in addition to those posed in his July 10th letter signed by Thornberry and other Texas Representatives Mike Conaway and Randy Neugebauer. He expects more answers in the days and weeks to come.