BORDER SECURITY AND
STPRA had its origins in the spring of 2005 at a meeting of South Texas landowners and managers who were concerned about a disturbing trend of massive illegal immigration across their properties. Their concern also centered on the changing nature of those illegal immigrants, which showed a higher prevalence of gang members, drug runners and human traffickers, plus an increase in “other than Mexicans” or OTMs. These types of trespassers, along with the potential for terrorists to enter the country, were seen as a threat to the safety and security of South Texas properties.
Since that initial meeting in 2005, the issue of illegal immigration and border violence has gotten even more disturbing, becoming the subject of intense nation-wide attention and debate. While a comprehensive solution has yet to be forth-coming, many millions of new federal dollars and, to a much lesser extent, new state dollars, have been spent to remedy the situation. Thousands of additional border patrol agents have been assigned to the southern border and National Guard troops are being re-dispatched to the region in a supportive capacity. A 700- mile fence has been erected in strategic places along the border and at least some limited inspections of south-bound traffic for guns and currency has begun.
Since its formation, STPRA has strived to keep the issues of border security and immigration reform in the consciousness of policy makers and allied state-wide and national groups. Each of our annual members meetings has featured speakers who have addressed these issues, including Senator John Cornyn, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (via video), Congressman Henry Cuellar, Alonzo Peña, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, David Aguilar, Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, and T. Michael O’Connor, head of the Border Sheriffs’ Coalition, among others. At the invitation of Senator Cornyn, board member Lavoyger Durham testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security in the spring of 2006. His testimony illustrated the day-to-day realities of South Texans who have had their properties invaded. He also offered ideas for solutions.
In the summer of 2007, STPRA’s board of directors adopted a resolution that called for “… legislation which will permit South Texas property owners to safely and peacefully enjoy their lands, which legislation may include responsible and reasonable provisions relating to a guest worker program, tamper-proof identification cards, and employer sanctions for violations of such programs.” STPRA has also consistently advocated increased financial and human resources, particularly federal, to secure the border and was one of the first groups to recognize the need for south-bound inspections and enforcement.
STPRA will continue to be a forceful voice for border security, made stronger through immigration reform, within our allied organizations, in the halls of Congress, and in the Texas legislature. In the 2011 legislative session, we testified in support of HCR 88, which closely tracked our official position on federal responsibility. We support market based visa caps and oppose any new paths for citizenship, except possibly for children who were brought here illegally and meet stringent qualifications including no criminal background and solid work and school performance.