A group of Texas Republican lawmakers pressed the federal government on Friday for more than half a billion dollars to reimburse the state for securing the U.S-Mexico border and providing services to undocumented immigrants.
The state has spent at least $559,196,063 on border security, education and incarceration of undocumented immigrants since fall 2012, state Rep. Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, said at a press conference on Friday. He was joined by about two dozen other members of the Texas Legislature.
Bonnen, who is the chairman of the House Committee on the Fiscal Impact of Texas Border Security Operations, said he will send a letter outlining the charges to the White House and the Texas congressional delegation. Bonnen said Comptroller-elect Glenn Hegar has agreed to send a bill to the federal government when he takes office.
“This is the most conservative number you could come to,” Bonnen said, noting the figure does not include health care costs. “The $559,196,063 dollar tab is a real number, reflecting a real cost to our Texas taxpayers.”
About about 1.8 million undocumented immigrants live in Texas, according to the Pew Research Center's Hispanic Trends Project.
“I certainly hope that Washington will wake up and decide this is a problem that needs a solution," Bonnen said of the costs.
Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, stressed the cost of incarceration of undocumented immigrants.
“I’m afraid the problem will only get worse,” Otto said. “Without serious measures to enhance security at the border, we are in no way prepared to deal with the influx of illegal immigrants that will be heading this way.”
Earlier this week, lawmakers approved another $86 million to keep the state’s border surge operation going. The operation includes Department of Public Safety troopers and the Texas National Guard.
Also this week, Gov.-elect Greg Abbott filed a lawsuit against the federal government over President Barack Obama’s executive actions to protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants from the threat of immediate deportation.