By Kenric Ward / Watchdog.org November 21, 2016
Reader reaction was swift and angry to news the Obama administration quietly halted an aerial surveillance program on the Mexican border.
But Republican leaders remained mum about the move, prompting an immigration-enforcement group to warn that GOP leadership is “suspect” on border security.
Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted: “Obama is doing everything he can to open the border. January 20th can't come soon enough.” His office did not issue a statement or respond to questions from watchdog.org.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a vocal critic of White House immigration policies, did not reply to Watchdog's request for comment.
Watchdog exclusively reported on Friday that the Department of Homeland Security was phasing out Operation Phalanx, an aerial surveillance program along the southwestern U.S. border.
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, told Watchdog he would challenge the decision, noting that Phalanx was “fully funded” by Congress.
So far, Cuellar is the only Texas politician publicly pledging to fight the shutdown.
Three Texas Republicans on congressional homeland security committees — Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and Rep. Mike McCaul, R-San Antonio — all failed to issue any comments.
The GOP’s non-response mirrors newfound passivity by Texas and other GOP-controlled states that had sued the administration over immigration policies.
Twenty-six states, led by Texas, joined the White House and immigrant-rights groups asking to freeze a challenge to Obama's immigration “reforms” until President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
“The parties agreed it makes little sense to continue fighting over the policy given the change in administration, their lawyers said Friday in a joint filing in federal court in Brownsville,” Bloomberg News reported.
“They asked the judge in the case to give Trump a month in office before deciding how to resolve the states’ complaints that Obama overstepped his constitutional authority by changing immigration policy without congressional approval,” the story stated.
Bob Dane, executive of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, said “Republican leadership is still suspect.”
“It can be argued that virtually all [of Obama’s] immigration maneuvers over the past eight years are temporary and reversible,” Dane told Watchdog.
“The bigger concerns moving forward are the institutional forces which will attempt to thwart Trump’s desire to control immigration. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce [a reliable GOP ally and prime proponent of legalizing illegal immigrants] isn’t closing shop.”
Dan Cadman, a research fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, called the Phalanx shutdown “reprehensible.”
“DHS is the happy beneficiary of force multipliers. Why they’re turning them down makes no sense,” Cadman told Watchdog.
“It is one more piece of evidence that the Obama administration is doing everything it can to throw as many monkey wrenches into the works as possible, and to sabotage the incoming administration.”
Readers of Watchdog’s report were stunned by the dismantling of Operation Phalanx.
“Foreigners are now able to come across the border without being seen? There's a dangerous reason that goes way beyond [DHS Secretary Jeh] Johnson's blatant lie that there is less cross-border traffic,” Marlene [no last name given] posted on the Watchdog site.
A DHS spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said late Monday that Phalanx “was not canceled,” but he could not confirm which flight operations, if any, were continuing.
“I’m not saying he’s not right,” the spokesman said of Watchdog’s military source in Texas. “Maybe we are out of money. I don’t know.”