Past Features

October 4, 2015

Working Toward a Border Grade
Texas heads in the right direction

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Dallas Morning News -- October 2, 2015
Texas border cameras show smuggling interdiction decline amid manpower surge
    Austin -- In Texas' growing effort to secure its border with Mexico, state officials have said the gold standard of success would be to know exactly how many people are crossing into the U.S. illegally and to intercept all of them.
    But data captured by the Department of Public Safety's 1,200-plus border cameras --- which DPS director Steve McCraw has touted as a way to “grade our homework” --- suggests progress toward that goal has been hard to come by.
    That's despite the state's decision last year to bolster the federal border presence by sending state troopers, the Texas National Guard and others to the Rio Grande Valley.
    From 2012 to late June 2014, the cameras --- all along the border --- tallied that 48 percent of smuggling events detected by the technology resulted in an apprehension. But in the 14 months since the state's border surge began, the interdiction rate has been around 40 percent.
    Experts cautioned that the data, which doesn't account for all border activity, has limitations. But they said the trend was nonetheless curious. And the statistics could raise the stakes for the state's “grade” on how well it uses the $800 million lawmakers set aside over the next two years for border security.