Rice U. experts comment on Texas border surge


David Ruth

Rice U. experts comment on Texas border surge

HOUSTON – (June 19, 2014) – Two Rice University experts are available to discuss the enhancement of the U.S. Border Patrol in Texas.

On Wednesday evening, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus directed the state’s Public Safety Department to begin a $1.3 million-per-week surge of state law enforcement enhancement along the Texas-Mexico border. The surge, which will amount to approximately $35 million through December, will provide additional security to patrol areas where gaps are perceived along the border and assist in preventing crime in border towns. The added Texas law enforcement presence will not be tasked with immigration enforcement.

Tony Payan, the Françoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and director of the Baker Institute’s Mexico Center, is currently traveling but will be available for interviews beginning Sunday. His statement on the news is:

“Texas’ efforts to beef up security on the border must be read in light of the larger context of what has happened with immigration reform. Since Congress and President Obama have failed to rationalize U.S. immigration policy and sync it with reality, the local debates are heating up again – something that should be expected as the states and cities bear much of the costs of the inability and unwillingness of Congress to act.

“At the same time, Texas is in the middle of an important election, where Democrats expect to have a better showing than they have had in 20 years. This means that Republicans must whip up their base to get them to turn out at a time when the party is showing some internal division between the tea party and moderate Republicans. Immigration is a perfect move to accomplish just that.”

Mark Jones, the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies, professor and chair of political science and fellow in political science at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, is available for news interviews. Jones can be contacted directly at 832-466-6535 and can do interviews in Spanish. His statement on the news is:

“This move is as much about partisan politics as it is about enhancing security along the Texas-Mexico border. This is just a stopgap measure that does nothing to resolve the underlying problem, which characterizes our completely broken immigration system.

“(The $1.3 million per week the state is investing) is not a trivial amount, but the impact is going to be far more symbolic than anything else when you think about the size and scope of the border,” Jones said. “It is a positive impact on security, but more than anything else it does nothing to resolve the underlying problems that create incentives for people to emigrate from Central America and does nothing to resolve the current source of anxiety and angst among advocates for immigration reform.”


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About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.