The current state border initiative, Operation Border Star, was first funded with $110.3 million in General Revenue Fund-related and State Highway Funds by the Eightieth Legislature, Regular Session, 2007. Operation Border Star centers on the use of intelligence to increase the effectiveness of federal, state, local, and private law enforcement assets. Regional intelligence is collected by six Joint Operations Intelligence Centers (JOICs) in the border area. These JOICs send intelligence data to the Border Security Operations Center (BSOC) in Austin. Administered by Texas Rangers, the BSOC integrates regional intelligence to help determine a more efficient use of law enforcement assets in the larger border area. A major tool used by the BSOC is TxMAP. TxMAP merges intelligence from JOICs and other sources to provide a real-time display of criminal activity layered on a Texas map.So, exactly what are "private law enforcement assets"? Rent-a-cops? Bounty hunters? Informants? Companies selling license-plate-reader data? Maybe Stratfor? (IMO more of a media outlet.) What does "private law enforcement assets" mean? Readers' thoughts?
Also one notices the intelligence folks are looking at a Texas map, which as we know, doesn't stop at the Willacy County line. Though this capacity has been developed on the pretext of "border security," the same methods and software are capable of being aimed anywhere in the state at anybody. And since crime on the border is much lower than in the state's big cities, it won't be long before the original justification will be viewed as a flash in the pan. Texas is a regional transportation and money laundering hub for illegal narcotics, so it will be easy enough for law enforcement to justify using their new
For the record, $452 million is enough to fund the state's prison system for a year. That's a lot of money with very little to show for it in terms of demonstrable improvements to security. The state has been shoveling border-security money down a bottomless pit, and under the watchful eye of supposed GOP budget hawks, to boot.
Every time I see poll numbers showing that border security and immigration rank highest among voter concerns, I think to myself, "these are rich people problems." Anyone actually judging the budget based on cost-benefit analysis can't possibly justify state border security spending at these levels.