Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill (HB) 9 into law Friday, Sept. 17. It will provide an additional $1.8 billion in state funding for border security over the next two years. The Governor signed the legislation at the Fort Worth Police Officers Association (FWPOA) headquarters, and was joined for the ceremony by the bills authors, Senator Jane Nelson and Representative Greg Bonnen, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, FWPOA President Manny Ramirez, and other members of the legislature.
“Our border crisis goes beyond the Rio Grande Valley and our South Texas communities - the smuggling of drugs, people, and weapons reaches far and wide throughout our state, and it affects all of us,” said Gov. Abbott. “That is why border security funding is crucial to our efforts to keep the entire state of Texas safe and secure.
“This funding will provide our agency partners with even more support to address the influx of unlawful migrants and prevent dangerous people and contraband from entering our state. I thank Senator Nelson, Representative Bonnen, and the entire state legislature for ensuring that this important bill made it to my desk.”
HB 9 includes $32.5 million to the Office of Court Administration for court costs; $301 million to the Texas Military Department for additional personnel; $154.8 million to the Department of Public Safety for Operation Lone Star surge costs, replacement tactical marine units, and additional intelligence personnel; $273.7 million to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for increased corrections costs; $214,785 to the Texas Commission on Jail Standards for employee overtime and travel costs; $1.02 billion for barrier construction, local grants, and establishing processing centers; $3.75 million for Border Prosecution Unit funding; and $16.4 million to the Texas Department of State Health Services for contracted ambulance services. It also includes extensive reporting requirements for the use of this funding.
The Governor made border security funding a priority for the first and second special legislative sessions. He launched Operation Lone Star in early March to help secure the border and combat the smuggling of people and drugs in Texas. There are currently DPS troopers, agents, Guardsmen, and rangers, who are engaged in the mission and working with local law enforcement. Gov. Abbott expanded the mission shortly after its launch to include anti-human trafficking efforts. His plan to secure the border also includes strategic fencing, barriers, and the construction of a border wall.