The Brief: Scope of Texas' Border Security Comes Into Focus

U.S. Border Patrol agents say that illegal traffic on public and private land in the Rio Grande Valley has triggered the need for additional resources in the region this year.
U.S. Border Patrol agents say that illegal traffic on public and private land in the Rio Grande Valley has triggered the need for additional resources in the region this year.

The Big Conversation

Texas' immigration woes have held the spotlight for weeks, but the breadth of the state's approach to border security is just now coming into focus.

Gov. Rick Perry's decision last month to send the National Guard to help secure the border may have turned the nation's attention decidedly toward Texas (and Perry's post-gubernatorial political prospects). But as The New York TimesManny Fernandez writes, "It was only the latest step in a broader, decade-long strategy by Mr. Perry and other Republican leaders to patch together Texas’ own version of the Border Patrol on its 1,200-mile border with Mexico."

Fernandez notes that since 2005, the state has spent $500 million on border security — money that has helped build a vast patchwork system that includes motion-detecting cameras, high-tech aircraft and, at times, game wardens.

And perhaps because of the new attention on the border, local officials are speaking out.

"It’s not something the federal government has asked him to do," El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar told the Times. "It is such a waste of taxpayer resources, especially when so many fundamental needs are underfunded by the very state leadership that proposes and promotes this waste."

Added former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson: "I worked with Governor Perry on border issues. I just think he’s gone a bit too far."

The Day Ahead

•    Lieutenant governor candidates Leticia Van de Putte and Dan Patrick will speak at the Texas Association of Broadcasters' annual convention today at the Renaissance Austin Hotel. Van de Putte will speak at 2:30 p.m.; Patrick will appear at 3:15 p.m.

Trib Must-Reads

Charter Schools Push Back Against New State Law's Measure on Closures, by Morgan Smith

Texas' Gulf Coast, Still Battered From Ike, Not Ready for Next Storm, by Neena Satija

Energy Efficiency Plan to Aid Low-Income Texans Remains Stuck in Neutral, by Jim Malewitz

GOP Lawmakers Make Case for Upholding Same-Sex Marriage Ban, by Eli Okun and Terri Langford

Elsewhere

Council welcomes Uber, Lyft to market with new taxi rulesHouston Chronicle

GOP chases youth vote with UberPolitico

To help migrants, Austin might offer services, issue city ID cards, Austin American-Statesman

$11 Billion Later, High-Speed Rail Is Inching Along, The New York Times

Bible banner suit heads to Texas Supreme CourtThe Associated Press

Equal rights ordinance opponents accuse city of stalling lawsuit, Houston Chronicle

Quote to Note

"If the right to select 'partners of their choosing' is the criterion used to invoke marriage as a fundamental right, then marriage restrictions on age, polygamy, and consanguinity are also ripe for challenge." 

— From a brief signed by 63 Texas Republican lawmakers this week urging the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Texas' gay marriage ban

Today in TribTalk

Why Texas' new abortion rules should be upheld, by Joe Pojman

Why Texas' new abortion rules should be struck down, by Amy Hagstrom Miller

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    Health Care: What's Next?: Tribune CEO and Editor-in-Chief Evan Smith will lead a discussion with two of the Legislature's most respected thinkers on health care, state Reps. Garnet Coleman and John Zerwas, on Aug. 18 in Richardson. The event is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is required. 

•    The Texas Tribune Festival runs from Sept. 19-21 at the University of Texas at Austin.