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According to the Legislative Budget Board HB 12 has a negative impact of $2,970,00 through the biennium ending August 31, 2017.
HB 12 would codify the Border Prosecution Unit (BPU) into statute to assist “border prosecuting attorneys in prosecuting border crime.” This unit would be able to employ a unit administrator, multiple attorneys, and any additional staff that would be able to fulfill the duties of this new unit.
This unit would be used as a “clearinghouse for information” relating to border crime. The unit would formally assist in developing and providing training to prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement agencies regarding specific issues to investigating and prosecuting border crime.
HB 12 would formalize the Border Prosecution Unit, which was funded since 2010 through appropriations in the amount of $4,000,000 for the biennium for “prosecution resources” in aid to the Border Security Operations. According to a published article by Rene Peña, the President of Texas District and County Attorneys Association, there are “many success stories since its creation.” The BPU has been able to assist local district and county attorneys with additional resources to help dismantle illegal drug cartels and seize illicit drug trafficking profits.
Although, the BPU has had accumulated great success in helping to secure the border region, we must note that this measure was only required because the federal government has failed to fulfill its obligation to protect he border adequately in the first place. The legislature is currently considering a number of other bills to address the growing federally-created border security problem, such as HB 11. HB 11 and HB 12 would provide additional resources and formally codify select resources to assist in stopping border-related crimes. Whereas, HB 11 would provide resources mainly to the Department of Public Safety, HB 12 would provide additional resources primarily to the District and County Attorneys.
It is the legitimate role of the state to provide this additional service when federal agencies are neglectful of serving the necessary duties addressed in Article 4, Section 4 within the framework of the U.S. Constitution. Prior to 2009, local county and district attorneys were better able to work with federal attorneys such as those working at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). However, the federal government's level of cooperation has dissipated and federal agencies may in some ways be actively thwarting border security. According to claims made in a lawsuit filed by Patricia Vroom, former Chief Counsel of ICE in Arizona, ICE has changed substantially by purging senior leadership and has actively encouraged lawyers to ignore enforcing numerous immigration laws that impact our border security.
Formalizing the BPU into statute was never meant to come into fruition, but after more than half a decade of the federal government being derelict in its duties to protect our national security it falls to Texas to take appropriate measures. We wearily support this bill as necessary to support our individual liberty, but we would prefer that the federal government pick up this tab.