Drivers in Texas busted for drunken driving, not paying child support or low-level drug offenses are among thousands of “high-threat” criminal arrests counted as part of a nearly $1 billion mission to secure the border with Mexico, the Associated Press reports. Having claimed that conventional crime data doesn’t fully capture the dangers to public safety and homeland security, the Texas Department of Public Safety classified more than 1,800 offenders arrested near the border by highway troopers last year as “high threat criminals.” Not all live up to that menacing label or were anywhere close to the border, and they weren’t caught entering the country illegally, as Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has suggested.
In response to the AP, the Department of Public Safety said it will recommend removing child support evaders from the list and signaled a willingness to stop classifying other arrests as “high threat.” However, it defended the data overall, saying it isn’t intended to measure border security, even though the figures are included in briefings to lawmakers. Democratic state Rep. Terry Canales, from the border city of Edinburg, said, “I would say it’s shocking that a person arrested with a small amount of cocaine in Odessa is used to show supposedly high-threat criminal arrests on the Texas-Mexico border.” Among the incidents classified by the state as “high threat” was a trailer that unlatched from an RV and rolled into oncoming traffic, killing another driver in a town more than 150 miles from the border. Other crimes lumped in with suspected killers and human traffickers were speeding teenagers and hit-and-runs that caused no serious injuries.