An $800 million, 2-year-old push for better border security along the border with Mexico in Texas has reportedly fueled a spike in traffic tickets that's enraged local drivers in two counties plagued by illegal immigrant entries.
According to an analysis by the Dallas Morning News, the Texas Department of Public Safety has conducted fewer stops in recent months after locals complained about the extra scrutiny – but is still writing as many tickets as ever, with Starr and Hidalgo counties in the Rio Grande Valley accounting for nearly 8 percent of all tickets in the state.
The agency insists crime and arrest data show the effort is working.
If a state trooper sees something, "They are going to respond to it," DPS Director Steve McCraw told the newspaper, defending traffic stops by saying drug cartel scouts "deliberately engage law enforcement on our roadways as decoys."
According to the News, the state in 2014 launched a border surge to combat increased illegal crossings and cartel activity with $800 million in funding that included the hiring of 250 additional DPS troopers at the border, the newspaper noted.
As DPS rotated troopers to the border from other parts of the state, traffic citations and warnings dropped in North Texas and other nonborder regions.
But in Starr and Hidalgo, traffic stops soared, the newspaper analysis found.
According to the newspaper, in the 22 months after the border security surge began, the newspaper found more than 600 people in Starr and Hidalgo counties who were stopped at least 10 times. More than 300 were stopped at least 20 times. One person was pulled over 52 times in that time period.
Salineno resident Jose Canales was also pulled over more than 40 times in that 22-month span, with most of those stops resulting in warnings.
"They just check me, check everything in the truck," he said. "I just tell them, 'I’ve already been through this 100 times.'"
The DPS is asking in the next two-year budget for an unprecedented $1.1 billion in border security funding, the newspaper reported.
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