The State of Texas is getting into the business of maritime border security with the introduction of six, thirty-four foot Texas Highway Patrol gunboats outfitted with bulletproof hulls and machine guns. These gunboats are slated to begin patrolling the Rio Grande soon in an effort to assist the US Customs and Border Patrol in stopping smugglers.
Though this move may draw the ire of several of my fellow left leaning friends who are leery of state intervention following the Arizona immigration debacle, I support this move by the State of Texas. Border States have been complaining about crime problems related to our porous borders for some time. Despite some of the ridiculous measures some of these states and their local municipalities have taken, they have very real concerns. Several of these states have passed laws they think will help, however, thus far each state that has taken steps they think will help have been bigoted at best. Arizona famously passed a law that encouraged its police officers to question the immigration status of anyone suspected to be in the country illegally, i.e. Hispanic Arizonans. Several other states such as Alabama have attempted or passed similar initiatives that would, among other things, make it a felony to give an illegal alien a ride to work, school or church. These initiatives completely undermine and usurp Federal authority to enforce immigration and customs laws and have largely served only to harass Americans of emerging ethnic minority backgrounds.
What Texas is doing appears to be an honest effort at helping instead of hindering the Federal Government, by securing its own state boundary from smugglers and the cartel violence that so often spills across the border. It has been estimated that since the Mexican Government crackdown on drug cartels began a few years ago, upwards of 40,000 Mexicans have lost their lives to drug violence along the US Border. Many Americans have also lost their lives to the violence associated with cartels vying to fill the vacuum created by the Mexican crackdown. One of the most notable cases occurred just over a year ago when an American skier on Falcon Lake near Laredo, Texas, was killed by cartel gunmen.
What Texas is not doing is taking the approach of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department who under the leadership of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, pulled over a disproportionately high number of Hispanic motorists over a hundred miles from the border. Texas is taking a common sense approach to border security by actually securing the border and leaving the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce Federal immigration laws in the interior. Under this approach the Texas Department of Public Safety can be assured that those whom they stop illegally crossing the river in either direction are actually in the act of violating Texas, US, or Mexican laws. Additionally, Texas Highway Patrol officers can be proud in knowing the job they do will serve to protect US and Mexican citizens instead of making life difficult for those of Latino descent.
What Texas is doing is promising and if properly implemented, could lead to a new era in Federal and State cooperation on an issue that is clearly of importance to both the Federal and State governments.