Obama Administration Tries One Last Time to Allow Illegal Immigration

U.S. Department of Homeland Security It certainly seems like another 'to hell with you' moment from the Obama administration before it leaves office. This time it is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security quietly shutting down Operation Phalanx, which is an aerial surveillance program that intercepts drugs and illegal crossings along the Mexican border.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the homeland security subcommittee, is drafting a letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson protesting the shutdown - saying Congress provided "full funding" for 2017.

This is not the first time. Last February, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Cuellar challenged Johnson when DHS reduced Phalanx’s flight operations. This time, Cuellar is seeking help from Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Reps. Mike McCaul, R-San Antonio, and John Carter, R-Round Rock.

Cornyn sits on the Senate Judiciary subcommittees on immigration, refugees, and border security and the terrorism, technology and homeland security panel. McCaul chairs the Homeland Security Committee in the House and Carter chairs the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.

“Over the last several years, Congress has provided billions of dollars to secure the borders, but without an end goal in mind,” McCaul said in a statement.

McCaul has authored legislation “to require the [DHS] secretary to gain situational awareness through the use of sophisticated technologies and other means, giving our border agents the ability to predict changes in illegal activity. “

DHS actually says that illegal crossings have declined along the Texas-Mexico border, but the facts simply do not support that statement. For instance, the U.S. Border Patrol reports show that apprehensions in the Rio Grande Valley rose 27 percent in fiscal 2016 versus fiscal 2015.

In the smaller Laredo sector alone, Operation Phalanx accounted for 10,559 apprehensions and 4,007 “turnbacks” from March 2012 to December 2015. Phalanx was also credited with seizing 12,851 pounds of narcotics during the period.

Operation Phalanx was established in July 2010 via executive order. The Army National Guard was authorized to provide up to 1,200 soldiers and airmen along the 1,933-mile southwest border to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a DHS agency.

Using advanced UH-72 helicopters, Phalanx flight crews generally consist of three National Guardsmen—two pilots and a sensor operator—and one Border Patrol agent. The southwest border states of Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico provided most of Phalanx's personnel from their local guard units.

In addition, Texas has committed nearly $1.7 billion in taxpayer funds to border enforcement since 2005.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to appoint more robust leadership at DHS, so Operation Phalanx could be back in business by the end of January.


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