Texas Senator Says New Border Oversight Committee is Being Formed

USA Mexico Border Wall
U.S. and Mexico border wall. | Image by MattGush

A new committee is being formed to oversee the border where Texas Military Department troops are deployed to apprehend migrants entering the United States unlawfully, according to Texas Senator Bob Hall.

“We don’t need to continue ignoring one of the tools that’s out there and that’s an interstate compact for border security, which would be an invaluable tool if at least one other state joins with us, because then we can enforce federal law and that would put us back in the deportation business,” Hall told The Dallas Express.

According to Hall, states that might join an interstate compact on border security include Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona, Louisiana, and Arkansas.

“Those states have some reasonably sensible people,” Hall said in an interview. “You don’t bring 2 million people into this country and disperse them in the dark of the night without having an impact on other states.”

Hall, a military veteran, expects to be a member of the new committee once it has been formed.

Hall attended a 90-minute conference last month with Adjutant General Tracy Norris at her Capitol office in Austin, along with several staff members and a representative from the Office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Norris is the first female commander of the Texas Military Department, which consists of the Texas Army National Guard, the Texas Air National Guard, and the Texas State Guard. The Texas Military Department declined to comment.

“The meeting was initiated by me to get an understanding of what, primarily, the problems were that we were reading about in the media, and so that’s why I called the meeting, so that we could have some answers for those people asking me about it,” Hall said. “I’m already on the Veteran Affairs and Border Security Committee. I sent a letter to Committee Chairman Kelly Hancock and he didn’t respond to it. So, I didn’t think anybody else was going to do anything.”

Operation Lone Star (OLS), a border security initiative created by Governor Greg Abbott last year, has stirred up controversy regarding the treatment of its troops as well as their actions.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, payment glitches, unacceptable living conditions, and even suicides have allegedly plagued OLS.

“The payment discrepancies were due to the sheer quantity of people who were brought on very quickly and put into a system that was never intended to handle a large number of people coming in with the difference in the data that had to be loaded and used,” Hall said. “The military are not state employees and our pay system was around paying state employees. It was fine on a small scale but it got overwhelmed.”

Meanwhile, Travis County Judge Jan Soifer ruled on January 13 that OLS operated unconstitutionally when troops arrested an Ecuadorian migrant at the border last year, according to media reports.

“That’s a legal decision and I expect it to be appealed and overturned on appeal,” Hall said.

In a January 13 Facebook post, Travis County District Attorney José Garza stated his office agreed with Judge Soifer that prosecution for criminal trespass as part of Operation Lone Star violates the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution and represents an impermissible attempt to intrude on federal immigration policy.

“[The] DA’s office concluded that based on the evidence, there were multiple ways in which the OLS program has failed to satisfy basic, fundamental, and procedural state and federal constitutional safeguards,” Garza posted.

Governor Abbott’s press assistant, Sheridan Nolen, declined to comment, and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s press secretary, Steven Aranyi, did not respond to requests for comment.

Gov. Greg Abbott declared a border security disaster on May 31, 2021. The disaster declaration was renewed on January 22, according to a statement.

“The U.S. Constitution allows states to defend themselves when they are invaded and so whoever gets to define the word invasion will determine whether that’s constitutional or not,” Hall added. “So, we are very much in our right considering the fact that we are being invaded. The Constitution doesn’t say whether that has to be an armed invasion or not.”

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