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Van De Putte Calls For Replacing National Guard On Border With More DPS Officers

Jennifer Whitney/Bob Daemmrich
Texas Tribune
Democrat Leticia Van de Putte faces Republican Dan Patrick in the race for lieutenant governor.

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte says her Republican opponent for lieutenant governor is fear-mongering with his first fall television ad released this week.

The ad links the threat of an ISIS invasion to the candidates' dueling policies over immigration.

Republican Dan Patrick’s 30-second TV ad opens with truckloads of fighters, waving guns as they roll down a street. He suggests they’re members of a group that beheaded Americans and Democrat Van de Putte’s policies make them a danger to Texans.

Patrick’s voice is heard saying, “While ISIS terrorists threaten to cross our border and attack Americans, my opponent falsely attacks me to hide her failed record on illegal immigration.”

Van de Putte says her opponent is trying to frighten voters.

“It’s one more example of using the politics of fear and harsh rhetoric to hide my opponent Dan Patrick’s no agenda for border security,” she said during a wide-ranging interview in the KERA television studios.

The state senator from San Antonio acknowledges, however, that Patrick’s correct when he says she opposed putting National Guard troops on the border. 

She agrees that extra law enforcement is needed there but says the governor’s deployment of 1,000 National Guard troops is ineffective and "unsustainable."

“We’re spending $18 million a month,” she said of the current border deployment which includes about $12 million for the Guard and the rest for additional Department of Public Safety officers.

“It’s costing way too much money and (the National Guard) can’t arrest people. They can’t arrest those that would do harm,” she said.

Van de Putte says she’s talked with local law enforcement near the border and that’s why she’s calling for Guard soldiers to be replaced with at least 500 additional DPS cadets who have the authority to make arrests. She estimates the change would cost the state about half of what it's currently paying for the border "surge."  

Patrick’s campaign could not be reached to comment on Van de Putte’s proposal for replacing the Guard with more DPS officers.

In his ad, Patrick says the National Guard is a key element in Texas’ border security.

Van de Putte says she’ll be releasing a statewide TV ad soon.

KERA asked Van de Putte and Patrick to sit down for extended videotaped interviews. So far, only Van de Putte has agreed to do that.

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.