Texas v. Washington: Partisan Unity in the Fight for Drones on the Border

MQ-9 Reaper photo by CBP

In this hyper-partisan climate, occasionally there are acts of the US Federal Government that are so ill-advised that they can even unite Texas Democrats and Texas Republicans in opposition. Such a the case was with funding cuts by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to their southern border drone surveillance program.

Under the Obama administration, Operation Phalanx was, per Watchdog.org, “an aerial surveillance program that intercepts drugs and illegal crossings along the Mexican Border.” Previously, when DHS attempted to merely reduce the programs operations, both Governor Abbot (R) and U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (D) protested the move. Now, with the program’s effective suspension, even more concern is being generated among Texas politicians.

Reported originally in November, Henry Cuellar launched a crusade to restore complete funding for this program for the 2017 fiscal year. In this effort, he even reached out to Republicans like U.S. Senator John Cornyn, and U.S. Congressmen like Mike McCaul, and John Carter. In response, McCaul drafted legislation meant to legally require DHS to employ such a program as Phalanx, to help our border agents deal with the mounting border crisis which, according to the same Watchdog article by Kenric Ward, has seen apprehensions of border crossing illegals rise 27% this year over the fiscal year 2015. However, DHS has not yet changed its position, maintaining that border crossings are down.

It is uncertain what may change in this area under President Trump, but that’s beside the point. Border security should be a something kept in functioning order, despite the politics of the ruling party. it is inexcusable for the governing entity tasked with securing our national borders to ignore that responsibility, denying the support necessary to get the job done. If Texas Democrats and Texas Republicans can come together on this issue, then perhaps the problem isn’t a partisan one as much as a case of one level of government too many.