Gov. Rick Perry today released his updated homeland security plan. The Texas Homeland Security Strategic Plan 2010-2015 is the latest outline of the state's plans to deal with all kinds of threats, ranging from natural disasters to terrorist attacks and border security.
"Texas faces a diverse array of challenges to our safety and security, requiring a unique approach to preparedness, response and recovery efforts,” Perry said in a press release. He touted, among other things, that Texas has spent about $230 million on border security efforts, which the state Legislature set aside for that purpose in 2007 and 2009.
I took a quick look at the border security section and found some interesting information. Perry started creating these plans back in 2004, and it seems some of the data hasn't been updated much since then. Page 13 of the plan addresses border and port security. It cites plans by Al-Qaeda leaders "to use criminal alien smuggling organizations to infiltrate terrorist operatives across the Texas-Mexico Border." Border and terrorism experts have repeatedly said that there have never been attempts by such terror groups to use the southern border as a means to attack the United States and that the likelihood of such an event is low. The report goes on to talk about OTMs, or "Other Than Mexicans" illegally crossing the border in large numbers: "Illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico—known as OTMs—are flowing across the Texas- Mexico Border. According to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, more than 137,774 OTMs were apprehended in Texas in FY 2005 through September." In 2005, the Border Patrol implemented Operation Streamline, and since then the agency has reported a pretty large decline in the number of OTMs crossing the border. According to a Border Patrol report from 2008, in the Del Rio Sector alone OTM apprehensions fell 52 percent from 2006 to 2008.
Those are just a couple of tidbits. There's a lot more in the plan, though, so check it out.
Perry's new strategic plan comes as Texas Democratic congressmen who represent the border question the governor's oft-made contention that the federal government has failed to invest in securing the border. In a press release today, U.S. Reps. Ruben Hinojosa, Silvestre Reyes, Ciro Rodriguez, Henry Cuellar and Solomon Ortiz questioned how Perry has spent about a half-billion dollars Washington has sent to Texas for homeland security. "We noted that an average of $125 million annually in Department of Homeland Security funding has gone to the state since 2006. And yet, Governor Perry has consistently sent less than 10 percent of those funds to border law enforcement agencies, where they are most needed," the lawmakers said. They plan to ask the U.S. General Accounting Office to analyze how much of that funding has been spent on the border. "We understand the needs and challenges that life on the border brings. We agree that more can be done, but we cannot do it alone," they said. "And we need to deal in facts, not myths.”