In a move that officials have been referring to as a “surge,” authorities in Texas have increased their security presence at the shared Mexican border in an effort to decrease the flow of undocumented immigrants pouring into the Southwestern state. The decision, which was announced by Gov. Rick Perry, Lit. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas State House Speaker Joe Straus late on Wednesday night, represents sovereign action on the part of Texas in a matter that many would classify as federal.
The initial plan for the surge specifies that it will continue through at least the end of the year, and longer if necessary. In the bills current form, it authorizes the state to spend up to $1.3 million every week to fund the anti-immigration efforts. Gov. Perry explained that he feels it improper for the state to stand by and wait for federal resolution that could take an undefined period of time.
The move has drawn criticism from others in Texan politics; a recently launched online petition has already collected signatures from over 4,500 individuals who feel as though this legislation should be called back to drafting and reworked prior to being enacted. There certainly exists a silver lining here for proponents of immigration reform; if states begin to push their own legislation in response to immigration, then the federal government may be forced to act more quickly on the matter.
Perry explained that he felt he was doing the residents of Texas no favors by waiting for a federal solution that he believes is long overdue. In a statement from his office, he emphasized that he felt the need to act sooner than later.
The move comes in response to one of the most pronounced periods of undocumented immigration in the nation’s history. More unaccompanied immigrant children are crossing into America from Central American countries than ever before, and the Border Patrol has reported making over 160,000 arrests since Oct. 1, 2013 on the Southwest Texas border alone.