State senate committee hears testimony on border security efforts

The first of two days of hearings on border security was held on Monday. 

"To have a complete picture of the battlefield," said Sen. Brian Birdwell, chairman of the Senate Committee on Border Security. 

The hearing fell exactly one day and one month since Operation Lone Star was launched. The program is a combined effort of Texas DPS, the Texas National Guard and other state agencies and departments to secure the Texas border.

Representatives from those agencies and departments spoke and answered questions from committee members at Monday’s hearing.

This comes after HB 9, signed by Governor Greg Abbott in September, allocated an additional $1.88 billion in funding for border security efforts.

Sarah Hicks, budget director for the Office of the Governor, said of the border funding so far roughly $24 million has gone to TxDOT to build their 1.7-mile section of the wall, and around $2 million has gone to temporary fencing and c-wire.

Another topic of discussion on Monday was Title 42.

Last week, the Biden administration announced the upcoming end to the Trump-era measure that allowed for expedited expulsion of migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That announcement triggered concern over a potential influx of migrants.

"Is there any plan now as we look into the very near future, where they’ll do away with Title 42, as to how we plan to maybe redirect some of the resources?" asked Sen. Juan Hinojosa.

Hicks said they’ve had discussions on "how to make sure those plans are ready." Texas DPS Director Steve McCraw said they’re prepared to be deployed wherever needed, though that would potentially mean a need for increased funding.

The committee will hear from other agencies and departments involved in border security efforts on Tuesday morning.

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