Sheriffs from El Paso County to the Gulf Coast are taking up the cause of national security, as Gov. Rick Perry vowed Wednesday to send $10 million to border counties to help deputies patrol the Texas-Mexico border.
Mr. Perry said Texas border residents can no longer wait for Congress to act while threats from violent gangs and terrorists rise. So the state will have to step in with its own plan for securing more than 1,100 miles that Texas shares with Mexico.
“I offer this plan, not because it is the state’s responsibility to control the federal border, but because the state of Texas cannot wait for the federal government to implement needed border security measures,” he said in a news conference in Laredo.
The plan also includes beefing up communications among law enforcement agencies; involving the Texas National Guard in training exercises for local border officers; creating a binational emergency response plan for natural disasters; and permanently assigning 54 Department of Public Safety criminal investigators to the border.
The highlight of the governor’s plan is support for Operation Linebacker, originally conceived by the fledgling Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition this year as a way for deputies—who are the first responders to 911 calls in the rural border areas—to serve as a second line of defense behind the U.S. Border Patrol.
The idea is to use deputies not for immigration enforcement, Border Patrol officials said, but as public-safety officers that can act as eyes and ears for federal agents.