Texas political figures question DHS halting of border surveillance flights

Four days after Watchdog reported that a Mexican border surveillance program was being dismantled, three Texas officials pressed the Department of Homeland Security to reverse course.
“Given the continuing surge of migrants along the southern border … we believe DHS should be requesting more surveillance and security resources, not less,” stated the officials’ letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson on Tuesday. The letter was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo.

DHS spokesman Dan Hetlage told Watchdog that flights of Operation Phalanx are “funded through the end of December and [a funding] request is in for next year.”

Hetlage said the 2017 request was made on Nov. 16, two days before the Watchdog story appeared. He did not specify the amount of funding sought.

In their Tuesday letter, Abbott, Cornyn and Cuellar declared, “DHS has not requested any flight hours to support Operation Phalanx for calendar year 2017,” even though the program received “a full appropriation of funds from Congress.”

While disputing Watchdog’s report that DHS was phasing out Phalanx operations in Texas, Hetlage said he could not confirm any current flights, citing security issues.
There is not much confidence in the Obama administration's border surveillance efforts.  Texas has expended a substantial amount of its on funds to fill in where the federal government has failed.  With the Trump administration promising a tighter border protection effort it appears to some that the Obama administration is opening the gates to let as many in as possible before January 20th at noon.


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