Texas House President Dade Phelan said more than 27,000 migrants were apprehended in the state this week – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

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(CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Speaker Dade Phelan calls the push to the US-Mexico border a humanitarian crisis. “I get daily DPS briefings, and what they’re saying is a push we haven’t seen in years.”

In an interview on Friday morning, Phelan said that, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, federal and state authorities apprehended more than 21,600 migrants in Texas last week.

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This week, that number has risen to over 27,500.

Of those apprehended this week, about 9,500 were from Honduras, over 6,500 from Mexico, over 6,100 from Guatemala and about 2,000 from El Salvador. “They are only those they apprehend, they are not those who pass without being apprehended.”

He also said that the DPS doesn’t just see migrants entering the Rio Grande Valley. “Now that has moved to the Del Rio area, where DPS has never seen the activity they see in the Del Rio area in the state of Texas. So this really comes from several areas and expands our resources even more. “

President Joe Biden said many apprehended migrants were being returned to their countries of origin.

Phelan said: “I don’t see a real plan on the part of the administration, and it’s frustrating, and it’s bipartisan frustration.”

The state is already spending $ 800 million this legislative session on border security.

But Phelan said that following the outbreak, the DPS is asking for millions of additional dollars. “I believe it’s over $ 60 million over the next year to fight this. It’s extra soldiers and extra equipment, overtime. There are monitors, there are drones, there are all kinds of levels of security that DPS can provide along our southern border.

During the interview, the president also discussed bills pending in the House to address widespread power outages last month that the state said was responsible for the deaths of 111 people. “We have a very robust plan, on 10 to 12 bills, I think we will have parquet from the house in the coming weeks, hopefully before Easter.”

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Phelan said that among the bills the full house would consider on Tuesday, power plants and other power companies are expected to winterize their facilities.

Other bills would ban variable rate electricity plans for residents and require greater oversight from the state’s electricity grid operator, ERCOT.

Phelan said the House will also debate bills on how to pay for overwintering and other improvements. “Our plan right now in the house will take $ 2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund and create a revolving loan program.”

According to him, the objective is to protect taxpayers against these costs directly. “It’s an opportunity for the cooperatives, you know, in the municipalities, especially to produce electricity, you can’t go and get loans on the private market. Because you know, let’s say for modernization or for weatherization, the state can help pay off those loans, they’ll pay us back. And over time, we’ll be able to lend that money for decades to improve our infrastructure.

The president said private companies could also be eligible for the loans.

In addition, he said the state could offer grants. “I don’t see us giving grants to anyone in the private sector, there might be grant possibilities for small municipalities and co-ops that might have difficulty repaying them. This is something we have to work on.

Besides electric utilities, Phelan said the program would also apply to expanding broadband access in the state.

This is an even greater need now, as distance learning and telemedicine have become a reality during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phelan said the House and Senate will eliminate any differences they have in their bills because at the end of the day, he said, lawmakers want to do what’s right for all Texans.

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Watch the full interview with Texas House President Dade Phelan:

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