Monday, April 25, 2011

Border prosecution pork so far remains in draft budgets

Jared Janes at the Brownsville Herald reported earlier this month on grants from the Governor to a multi-jurisdictional "border prosecution unit," which I'd not heard about previously, spanning the 16 counties along the Rio Grande ("Prosecutors pool resources to combat border crimes," April 3). The BPU is a:
team of 16 state prosecutors was established in 2009 to better handle and coordinate prosecution of border crimes. Funded by a $4 million grant from Gov. Rick Perry’s office, the border prosecution unit, or BPU, is a network of assistant district attorneys who collaborate with the Texas Department of Public Safety to develop investigations into organized crime along the border.

In its first year of existence, the BPU prosecuted 2,312 cases, leading to 1,304 convictions on border crimes involving weapons, drugs and human trafficking. But the task force’s leaders say those convictions are only the beginning as they delve into time-intensive investigations of criminal enterprises. And those investigations are likely to continue, with the $4 million grant — along with a host of other border security programs — being funded to previous levels in draft budgets despite the state’s financial straits.

[Cameron County Assistant District Attorney Ismael] Hinojosa, whose work as Cameron County’s border prosecutor resulted in almost 400 convictions the first year, said the BPU forged inter-jurisdictional cooperation in a "critical stage in the fight against the Mexican drug trafficking organizations."
Those prosecution and conviction numbers seem awfully high to me, given that the border region has the lowest crime rate of anywhere in the state, so I'd be interested to learn what's included. With all the cuts being made in education, mental health, nursing homes, etc., it's remarkable that this program so far remains funded. It's hard to tell without knowing more whether it's an essential strategy for going after drug cartels or just more Prosecutor Pork. Paying prosecutors is historically a county responsibility and lots of DA's offices would like to have the state pay for an extra ADA; which isn't to say the money is being spent on laudable activities. In El Paso, the grants are being used to investigate prison/street gang members of Barrio Azteca who have allegedly been acting as hit-men in Juarez and by some estimates may be responsible for half the deaths there. Elsewhere, prosecutors are working cases developed by DPS:
While the grant provides at least one prosecutor in each jurisdiction, the BPU blurs the jurisdictional lines to allow district attorneys access to others if needed.

Hidalgo County District Attorney Rene Guerra said that cooperation between individual prosecutors and DPS is the BPU’s hallmark, encouraging joint operations that recognize criminal activities often are spread across multiple counties. In Hidalgo County, Guerra’s border prosecutor frequently assists the three DPS divisions — the Texas Highway Patrol, the Texas Rangers and the Criminal Investigations Division — with legal expertise in developing cases.
Grits filed an open records request with the Governor's office for documentation related to this grant, so perhaps we'll have more detail on the BPU soon. In the meantime, Janes' article was instructive, though mostly voicing prosecutors' approbation for the program.


Anonymous said...

You might want to educate yourself about the border, border crimes, and exactly what goes on down there. People who don't live on the border don't get it. Cartels are in America. Cartel murders are happening in America. Here's a good place to start your education:

See also:

Anonymous said...

El Paso has one of the lowest crime rates for a city of its size. That does not mean the border has a very low crime rate or that it is safe.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

6:45 - Yes, it does mean the border has a low crime rate. Check the crime rates for every other border town on the US side and they're quite low across the board compared to the rest of the state.

6:24, I'll do my best to educate myself. What do you think this post got wrong?

Anonymous said...

I think the State should put more money into Border Security. Keep the illegals, drug lords and gangs out of this Country. One of the reasons for the huge growth in populations at our local schools stems from illegal immigration from Mexico. The Mexicans are coming into this State and are having 4-6 kids draining our medical system, education system and welfare system.

We cannot continue as a country allowing this immigration. There are only so many seats at the table and most of them are already taken. No one wants to pay more taxes to fund health care, education and welfare services, but at the same time no one wants to stop the root cause of the problem.

However this subject is not polically correct nor is my view so I won't hold my breath on this subject hoping for change.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

12:03, this border prosecution unit has nothing, zilch to do with immigration. Just because that's your obsession doesn't mean you have to climb onto that hobbyhorse whenever anyone mentions the border. (Perhaps somebody should have decided "There are only so many seats at the table" the day before your ancestors arrived?)

In the real world, if all the illegal immigrants in Texas magically left tomorrow, it would decimate consumer demand and the labor force for key industries, dramatically reduce sales and property tax revenues (which the comptroller says exceed costs to the state from illegal immigration), and dump the economy in the tank so fast it would make your head spin. We'd also lose multiple Congressional seats. It's not a function of being politically correct, but at some point reality must intervene.

Why is it that virtually everyone who comes on this blog to make such off-topic statements does so anonymously? Yours seems to be an opinion many people hold but few are willing to attach their names to. Given the holes in your thinking, I can see why.

The Homeless Cowboy said...

I think you hit the nail on the head there Grits. Signing your name makes it a different ballgame. Also I happen to agree with your assessment. Thanks

Anonymous said...

That's not what happened in Oklahoma, Grits. When OK passed their illegal immigration laws, an estimated quarter-million illegals left the counties around OK City. Amazingly, Oklahoma is still there, and my state taxes in OK went down. Imagine that.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure some of the folks over in Tamaulipas would appreciate some of this "prosecutor pork." Ciudad Mier,within spitting distance of the Rio Grande, has become a ghost town due to the cartels. When is the last time you went over to Nuevo Laredo, Grits? I think it's foolishly naive to think even for a moment that cartel influence and violence isn't spilling over into our country. And apparently we can't depend on the Obama Administration to do a damned thing about it. For people to contend that the immigration problem is somehow distinct and severable from the issue of border violence is patently absurd. The "good old days" that Grits harkens back to where immigrants were coming to this country just to better their lives are long gone. While that may still be the case for some, plenty of these illegals are not here just violating our immigration laws. And to think, some of our legislators want to simply parole them from prison, give them a pat on the behind, and send them back across the border with a promise never to return. Lunacy.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

7:30, Sure, Oklahoma is "still there." Where would it go? Still, I'll guarantee no Texan would trade your economy for ours. And Texas cut taxes in the last few years, too. That's a GOP agenda plank: One thing doesn't have anything to do with the other.

Also, there's little doubt losing a quarter of a million local consumers had a bigger effect on the OKC economy than you imply, if that number is really true.

More to the point, Oklahoma doesn't share a border with Mexico. Texas' connection to the Mexican economy and the massive volume of legal international trade at the border is much more robust.

9:10, the BPU prosecutors don't have jurisdiction in Nuevo Laredo, so I'm not sure how you think they'll help the problems there. Otherwise, you're the one who's being "naive." The problem isn't Mexican violence spilling into the US but the other way around!! The "spillover" is mostly from US street gangs who travel to Mexico to work as hit-men. By contrast, the border on the US side is the safest area of Texas.

A Texas PO said...

Grits, I agree that the statistics show that the Texas border is the "safest" part of the state. However, I can understand why so many who live there don't believe it because they see so much more of the violence that the national media ignores. I'm willing to agree with the number of prosecutions cited in this post, but it sure would be interesting to see just what those prosecutions were for. Agg Assaults? Felony 1 drug possession? Agg Kidnapping? Murder? Attempted Murder? Class B pot possession? Whenever I see numbers like those posted here, I know that the source is hiding something. Please let us know what Rick Perry tells you about this BPU.

austex1151 said...

Thanks for calling that anti-immigrant out on his fallacies. I live in a section of Austin that is heavy on undocumenteds. They all seem to work a lot. My own sister has a big ranch down in the Valley. She does the same rant about illegals sucking up all the services. Yet she must use a lot of that labor to get in her crops. And, btw, she is also a "small govt" screamer, yet she has taken in over $2 million in ag subsidies over the last decade.

As for Oklahoma, folks need to know that it is 2nd in the county for getting federal funds. Again, the hypocrisy about "slashing govt waste".

As for this "secure the border" lunacy, get real. How about fining those employers who hire the illegals? Oh no...Big Business wails about cost and (This must be hardwired into their brains) it's gonna drive businesses to close.

Another pro-American said...

The reason OK gets a lot of federal dollars is because the state is full of native Americans. And, by the way, OK does prosecute employers who hire illegals. It also prosecutes those who transport and house them. OK is a farm state. Govt subsidies are what they are in OK and in Texas. If your going to peddle your pro-illegal immigrant rant, you should get your facts straight.

Anonymous said...

The are still a few Angelo kids in our classrooms. That must just burn some folks up.

Anonymous said...

The problem with immigration is not immigration itself it is the immigrants who are coming into this State and Country. Many of which are looking for a free ride or to have their children in the USA.

I am half Polish and half Hispanic and absolutley detest those who cater to the illegal immigrants here in Texas, the majority of which are Hispanic. By catering to these immigrants we are allowing them to not immigrate into American society. Learn American Values, learn English, and contribute to ALL aspects of our society.

My Grandmother came Poland, she learned English and married a WWII Vet. They sent my Mother to UT Austin where she graduated, being the first college grad on her side of the family. My Fathers (Hispanic) side of the family have been in Texas since the early 1820's. My grandparents learned English and sent him to Sul Ross where he was also the first to graduate. My parents sent both my brother and I to Angelo State where we graduated 8 and 10 years ago.

That is a sucess story for a grandson of an immigrant and an example of what can be accomplished by immigrants for their families. However, my Grandmother loved this Country and never took advantage of any service provided. This cannot be said for our current generation of immigrants.

Anonymous said...

The Americans are the occupiers. The Americans came to Texas and fought Mexico to hold on to its racist agenda, and profit thereby. Then the Texans fought against the United states to support a racist agenda. Our politicians use phrases like no child left behind and the war on drugs to support a racist agenda and bleed the taxpaying citizen dry. I suppose it’s good that our public education has done such a good job at dumbing the citizens of Texas down so they buy into this crap pedaled by our legislators. Shame they want to cut funding to education to pay for incarceration but it supports the racist agenda. And we seem to be all right with all of this. I’m a second generation immigrant and all I can say is that I’m sure glad I can pass for white in Texas.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like some phoney stats. Those cases were already pending and would have been resolved just the same w/o the border unit. This unit is another task force with a end to justify the means. Waste of funds at a time money is tight.

Anonymous said...

Live on the Texas border for 60 days; not in the big city but in the country. Write down the crimes you observe during the 60 days. Compare your stats with Gritsforbreakfast stats (these are the official stats). Why are the official stats lower?

BTW; report each crime you see and note the law enforcement/border patrol response time (if any). Interesting isn't it?

Retired 2004