Lt.Gov. David Dewhurst wants the federal government to reimburse Texas $156.6 million for the costs of jailing undocumented immigrants in county facilities since October 2011.
In a letter addressed to Pres. Barack Obama, Dewhurst called out the president’s administration for allowing Texas to “shoulder one of Washington’s most critical responsibilities.” He also called the state’s role in incarcerating undocumented immigrants an “unfunded mandate.”
The Texas Legislature approved a bill in 2011 which ordered record keeping on the costs of jailing undocumented immigrants after local law enforcement expressed concerns. Dewhurst said Harris County was the hardest hit by the problem, accumulating almost $50 million in expenditures since record keeping began two years ago. Travis County had the second highest expenditures at $22 million, followed by Dallas County with $15 million, Dewhurst wrote.
“I look forward to your response in the form of prompt payment and a continued dialogue on your commitment to meeting our nation’s border security responsibility,” Dewhurst concluded in his letter to the president. “The families of those lost to drug and human trafficking deserve nothing less.”
The lieutenant governor, who is running for re-election against several Republican candidates, is now trying to get Texans to sign a petition urging the Obama administration to pay up. The petition is housed on the Dewhurst’s campaign website.
The White House has not responded to Associated Press requests for comment on the letter.