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Governor Abbott Signs Border Security Bill

A Texas DPS trooper on patrol in West Texas (Tom Michael/KRTS)

On Tuesday, Governor Greg Abbott signed into law HB 11, the new border security bill recently passed by state lawmakers.

The nearly $310 million bill paves the way for the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to hire an additional 250 state troopers for border deployments, allows the department to implement 50-hour work weeks, and requires DPS to develop a plan for southbound checkpoints on international bridges that would intercept drugs, cash and other contraband heading into Mexico.

HB-11 also establishes a "transnational and organized crime" law enforcement division that will help local border authorities with investigations and prosecutions alongside a special prosecution unit.

The bill is part of a larger $800 million border security package approved by lawmakers this legislative session.

In the border security debate, Abbott has turned to language often used by former governor Rick Perry, saying the federal government isn't doing its job to secure the border, and that Texas "will not sit idly by" as that happens.

Abbott spoke at a signing ceremony in Houston on Tuesday.

"Because of the magnitude of this challenge, I declared securing the border an emergency item, and the Texas legislature responded profoundly, and strongly," he said.

West Texas Rep. Poncho Nevárez - whose district runs the border from Eagle Pass west through Hudspeth County - said with the millions of dollars being spent on border security in Texas, he hopes to see "real results" from the bill, not, as he put it, "more red meat for Republican voters."

Other border Democrats have said they want to see more specific measurements on how effective the state's ongoing border security surge efforts have been so far.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.