Sunday, November 27, 2016

DPS surge resulted in harassment of border-area drivers

Grits isn't sure at this point why journalists bother examining performance outcomes or cost-benefit analyses when it comes to immigration or border security. Somewhere during the 2016 presidential campaign cycle, debates on these subjects passed wholly through the looking glass and pols now feel free to just say stuff without any reference to facts or reality.

Regardless, the Dallas News gamely demonstrated yet again, if further evidence were really necessary, that Texas' much-ballyhooed border security buildup has been a public safety bust. During the period after the DPS surge began, traffic tickets in areas with expanded patrols increased slightly. But the big change came in traffic stops resulting in warnings, which skyrocketed more than five-fold almost immediately.

That means DPS is stopping a lot more people but in most cases there isn't enough criminality present even to justify giving them a ticket. So tens of thousands of South Texans were being subjected to unjustified pretext stops which are basically fishing expeditions, not detentions based on legitimate public safety needs. Justifiably, reported the Morning News:
some critics continue to charge that DPS remains unable to prove real success at the border beyond boosting traffic enforcement. 
“For that level of scrutiny on your driving habits, what are we getting?” said Rep. Poncho Nevarez, an Eagle Pass Democrat who serves as vice chairman of the House Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee.
Moreover, both citations and warnings dropped steeply across the rest of the state as DPS diverted resources to staff up the border surge, found the paper's analysis. "Comparing the two years after the surge against the two years before, citations spiked 30 percent and warnings rose 160 percent in Starr and Hidalgo counties. In nonborder counties, meanwhile, citations dropped 21 percent and warnings fell 25 percent."

Some individuals were subjected to a level of intervention which can only be described as harassment. Almost unbelievably, "Looking at the 22 months after the surge began, The News found more than 600 people in Starr and Hidalgo counties who were stopped at least 10 times. More than 300 were stopped at least 20 times. One person was pulled over 52 times in that time period."

With the new president pledging to begin construction of his "beautiful" new wall on "day one," we're already hearing open discussion among Texas Republicans of ending DPS' border deployment and letting the feds handle the job. Even though that's clearly a self-justifying fig leaf, IMO legislative critics should let them have this one, take "yes" for an answer, and seek to end the $800-million-per-biennium pork package, freeing up the money to use for other priorities.

State leadership isn't going to end this wasteful boondoggle because it's failing to achieve good outcomes or doesn't make cost-benefit sense. That ship long ago sailed. We must recognize that this budget item originated as a partisan slap at the Obama Administration, not in response to real-world public-safety threats. So, having been spawned of overt partisanship, that's probably the only basis on which the DPS surge can realistically be rolled back while giving state leadership sufficient political cover. I'd be fine with that.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

The motive for this surge was never about illegal immigrants. It wasn't political either. The motive was money. I haven't yet figured out how this slush fund is doled out and to whom, but one of these days someone will.

Pat said...

I live on the border NW of Del Rio. The "troopers" that a friend of mine, who also lives in the area, spoke with all stated that they, the troopers, were being sent to the border under a DHS fully funded grant. The troopers were to make the traffic stops on the highways so that Border Patrol could search the vehicles in violation of the Federal Law and Texas Law as where Border Patrol has legal authority. The troopers were here for about 2 weeks each and everything was paid for by DHS. This sounds like "contract work" to me. This leads to many open questions about proper authority, etc..

Anonymous said...

Not to worry, folks. Your DPS is hard at work manufacturing another crisis in order to justify an increase in funding so that mesquite trees everywhere are safe.

Anonymous said...

The border surge was directed by former Governor Perry, the Lt Gov and the speaker of the house most likely or entirely towards Obama's efforts or lack thereof on immigration and border security. Blaming DPS for carrying out that directive is akin to blaming US soldiers in Vietnam for carrying out Johnson's directives..different directives yes, but mandated directives nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

I'd venture to say that the warning to ticket ratio in which warnings greatly increased or as you posted "that means DPS is stopping a lot more people but in most cases there isn't enough criminality present even to justify giving them a ticket" probably has to do with several factors. The biggest factor is likely that troopers are deployed to south Texas and aren't from that area and either don't know which JP court to file in or don't care to file a ticket potentially causing their return for court. There are other possible factors, but one would complain if DPS wrote mostly warning or all tickets and no warnings.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:28,

"Lack thereof?" 20,000 border patrol agents and that's a lack of effort? Please don't be stupid.

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DLW said...

06:32:00 PM, Geography isn't the biggest factor in a lack of tickets. These are pretext stops, pure and simple. They couldn't care less about the alleged traffic violation. It is used as a ploy to stop a maximum number of vehicles in hopes of finding drugs, weapons, intoxicated drivers or people who are here illegally. They do not intend to ticket when they make the stop, just like the nice young trooper who stopped me recently for 78 in a 75. He didn't find what he was hoping for and he gave me a warning and said have a nice day. He seemed a little surprised when I told him that it had to be the biggest waste of time interdiction stop he would make all day.

Anonymous said...

08:22AM his goal was probably compliance with the speed limit as well.

Anonymous said...

In some cases, it has also slowed adjudication of cases in some of the counties from which troopers are pulled for their border security TDY as cases have had to be reset because the trooper witness is down south.