A new budget proposal in Austin suggests that the Texas Department of Public Safety needs more than $1 billion to keep up with border security needs.
KENS 5 cameras were rolling at the moment when a group of undocumented immigrants were being released at the Hidalgo International Bridge.
About 50 of them were walking back into Mexico after being caught by authorities.
“They caught us at the desert,” said Joel Villa, who was being deported for the sixth time after looking for work in the U.S. so he could send money back to his family.
His release happened as discussions over border security spending have taken center stage in politics.
“Really what it boils down to is, that we want to keep the state and the country safe,” Texas State Representative Oscar Longoria (D-35) said.
Longoria noted that legislators in Austin will consider a supplemental $300 million border security budget to keep DPS troopers along the border to assist federal law enforcement.
“I mean, it’s really helping in that effort,” he said. “However, we need to see what we can do to make sure we keep with the investment but at the same time, if possible, save some funds.”
Texas approved $800 million during last session with plans to add 250 more troopers to the already 600 assigned to the border.
Meanwhile, at the federal level, Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates that the cost of the cycle starting with identifying an undocumented immigrant and ending with his or her deportation is at $12,000 per person with more than 210,000 people removed since October.
“It’s very easy for people to try to smuggle across and get on the major interstate,” Longoria said. “So these are areas that need to be covered and we need to inundate them with law enforcement and they need to observe and of course intercept.”
As for Villa, he said that spending a year at a North Carolina prison has changed his mind about wanting to return to the U.S. He said he doesn’t want to get in trouble with the law again and now prefers to stay in Mexico.
Legislators will begin work in January and decide on the final amount that DPS will be given at the end of the legislative session next summer.